Jesus knew how to love well. He knew people so perfectly that He formed His message to speak to their hearts. Oftentimes this occurred outside of the synagogues and away from where large groups of people heard Him speak. When a woman from Samaria approached Jacob’s well to get water, the last thing she expected to find was Jesus. He could have seen her walking towards the well alone and moved to a different location, but instead, He talked to her. He engaged her in a conversation that spoke straight to her heart. He loved her. As a result, she started asking questions about how to obtain God’s love and became His follower. This is community ministry.
This story is just one of many examples of how Jesus loved people well through community ministry. It’s our job to find ways to reach out in the same ways. As we’ve worked with thousands of churches, we’ve witnessed powerful community outreaches that we know your church can mirror to make an impact for the Kingdom.
Consider these three inspirational examples and let them inspire your church to engage in community ministry.
Ministries of Jesus
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19
As the Spirit led and the pastor preached on what would become a lengthy sermon series focusing on Luke 4:18-19, God began to stir the hearts of His people at Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. The question in response was, “If Jesus ministered to spirit, soul, and body, what is He calling us to do?”
A team of church members began seeking, praying, and planning. After 10 months, it was time for ministry to begin and the Ministries of Jesus (MOJ) Medical Clinic opened in 2001 for people who could not afford proper medical care, such as the homeless and those with little income. In 2005, a counseling component was added, providing services for a need much greater than anticipated.
Although these ministries were bearing fruit, it seemed something was missing. At an evening service, a young man plagued with loneliness wandered in off the street looking for a place of comfort and stumbled into a testimony night about addiction. Afterward, the man handed a pastor his needle and shared about his addiction and need for help. With that, God made it clear this was the missing piece at MOJ and in 2009, a recovery ministry began.
Thousands of lives are impacted each year at the Ministries of Jesus. Sharing Jesus is their main passion and they can see the impact they have on the community simply by seeing a need and opening their doors to meet those needs.
To learn more about this ministry, check out moj.com.
Urban Ministry Center
Christ Church Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina, has also reached out and made a difference in the local homeless community. They have established the Urban Ministry Center (UMC), which is an interfaith agency that serves as an entry point for the chronically homeless. In addition to meeting basic needs such as meals, showers, laundry, phones, and a mailing address, UMC also hosts Community Works programs including soccer, art, and gardening. UMC also offers permanent housing to the chronically homeless in their community. Christ Church has also helped support the construction of Moore Place, which houses over 80 homeless men and women.
To learn more about this ministry and others at Christ Church Charlotte, check out Poverty Prevention.
Love Mercy Do Justice Ministry
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
One ministry that understands the heart of Jesus is the Love Mercy Do Justice Ministry at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This ministry addresses different areas of justice in their community. Their goal is not to develop new programs within their church, but rather serve organizations already making an impact. Within this organization, they serve over 35 different organizations in their community to help bring light and joy to those who need it.
To encourage their church members to volunteer in this ministry, they hold an annual Urban Plunge. Held one day each spring, the Urban Plunge invites members of all ages to participate with one organization Thornapple serves. The heart behind the Urban Plunge is to help their church members get over the fear of going into these marginalized places.
During this Urban Plunge, church members are able to participate in organizations such as Degage Ministries where the homeless are fed, provided showers, and assisted in ways they might not experience otherwise. This ministry has also addressed the increase in women who are homeless and now provide these women with a safe place to sleep. Experiencing this ministry during the Urban Plunge has made such an impact that many church members regularly serve at Degage Ministries to continue loving on those in their community.
To learn more about who they serve, check out Thornapple Covenant’s list of organizations in their community.
Hopefully, these examples have inspired you to build your own local outreach ministries and do the work of the Church. Sit down with your staff and work on creating a plan to get started today. Encouraging church members to reach out to the marginalized and share the Gospel can be tricky. To help you inspire your congregation, find ministry ideas and leadership training resources at Church Relevance Course Shop.
Samantha Decker has worked as a content marketer and the church communications director for a local church. Samantha brings both experience and a passion to equip the church by providing resources to help them live out their mission for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. She’s always up for some (good) coffee, travel, and intentional conversation. Samantha enjoys living in Oklahoma City with her husband, Dustin, and their two sons Eli and Caden.