So last Saturday night, Koinonia House did an 'outreach night'. Did you notice I didn't say 'event'? It was not an event. We just encouraged everyone to begin cultivating a mindset of reaching out...doing things that we might not normally do, or simply connecting purposely with people that are either different than ourselves, or outside our normal circle of friends. Rather than doing the same thing we do every week, spending Saturday night doing...well, whatever it is we would normally do, to be in a place that we are intentionally asking God to give us connections, or use us in some way in that place. We had some people hang out at a local pizza shop, and their intent is to actually have their cell group begin meeting there on a regular basis. One small group spent the evening in the local park, and came across a homeless man who they spent the evening with - took him to eat, talked with him, got together some more food to leave with him, and gave him a Bible. The man kept talking about really wanting a beer. The one guy who gave him the Bible told him that he'd check back with him, and if he (the homeless man) had read the book of John, and could tell him about it, he'd take him to get a beer. Other people just made a point of hanging out with some people from work who they know do not know God. While all this was going on, a few of us got together to pray for those who were out.
I felt really good about the night, feeling like we had probably made more real connections with people than if we had done a big fancy event in the park, where tons of people show up and we don't connect on a deeper, personal level with anyone. This, to me, is much more what outreach is about. Don't get me wrong, events are great, and we are still planning to do a "Light the Night" event on Halloween. Last year our neighborhood and others who came really enjoyed it and asked if we'd do it again this year. It was a great way to simply bless people without expecting anything in return, and it was an opportunity to plant some seeds (we handed out cool comic books that presented the gospel, as well as some other fun 'tracts' for kids), but all in all, we didn't go below the surface with anyone. Which is ok too, I'm just realizing we need to cultivate both, by in my opinion, the emphasis is on the relational stuff.