Outreach … Bah Humbug

Leneita Fix —  November 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

gift

It’s that “outreach” time of year again.  Perhaps it’s because many really believe “Santa is Watching.”  We just finished up some form of Harvest Party or Trunk or Treat for Halloween. Now we will turn to food baskets and Christmas gifts for the “less fortunate.”

Now before you accuse me of being a “Scrooge,” I am not against helping the Body of Christ reach the least, the lost and the lonely, especially during the “holidays.”  I certainly am not against those in need receiving a special touch this time of year.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I feel like we all need to feel a little “spoiled” every once in awhile.  In other words, let’s give extravagantly.  Where I get hung up is on the approach.

I hate “Outreach,” because that is how we see it- as an event.  We mark it on our calendar and a couple of times of year we tell the world what we accomplished.  We gave out X number of  plates of food or reached X number of shut ins or saw X number of shining happy faces get gifts.

We love to quote Matthew 25:35 & 36 when the Lord says this,  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”   He is talking about a lifestyle, not an occasion.

As we enter this season I wonder if we can see it as an extension of who we are anyway.  This is a great opportunity to meet a hurting and aching world that would love a little “Holiday Cheer.”

As we look forward to the “Season of Giving,” I just wonder if we can approach it differently by asking ourself these questions?

If I Get NOTHING Out of This Would I Do It Anyway?

There is a way of serving that is really more for us.  We say that it is about “the Lord.”   However, take a look at your heart. If you don’t get even a “Thank You,” “no satisfaction,” nothing at all,” would you still serve?  We want the answer to be “YES,” but is it really?

Do I Give or Remove Dignity From Those I Serve?

There can be an attitude of “you need this,” sometimes when we give.  In what you are doing, does it allow the person to feel empowered?  If you give something are you looking down on the person as “lesser, even if not intentionally?

Is This An Extension Of Who I Am?

It can be easy to point to those “events” as the time to get out and “Do Something.” As long as we have the attitude that we can “show up” and then “go home,” our selfishness stays intact.  We can’t MAKE anyone be selfless, but we can show service is often about seeing the hungry, thirsty & lonely DAILY.

So go for it!  Serve meals on Thanksgiving and wrap an extra present for a child whose parent is in prison this Christmas.  Show a little extra love and then on January 2nd keep it up!

Thanks for loving students,

Leneita

@leneitafix

I’m sure you love most if not all of your volunteer ministers.  Face it, they give up their time and energy to help you, walk with teens and serve the Lord.  What isn’t there to like about them?  In fact if we were to sit down over coffee (Your buying), you would have some amazing stories to share about how you see God working through them.  Bottom line: MINISTERS ARE IMPORTANT

Since you can’t do what you need or want to do with out your volunteer team it’s imperative that you show them YOUR APPRECIATION.  While they might not be on your Christmas list this year, you need to make sure that they are thanked and celebrated.  So, what does that mean?  How does thanking and rewarding your volunteer ministers look like?

Sometimes there is an internal push back to thanking our ministers because you can’t afford it or there are just too many to track.  Again, you might be gracious for all that they do; however, unexpressed gratitude isn’t really true gratitude at all.  If you feel that gratitude isn’t a natural habit of yours, than consider these three tips:

Free Goes Far – Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that take little money; but, lots of thought.  If all you are receiving in your mailbox these days is junk mail, you know how incredible it is to receive a handwritten note or card from a loved one.  Next time you want to thank a volunteer take a minute or two to write out a card and mail it to them.  Even if your only note is, “Thank You” it will go a long way.  If you receive an email from a parent or a student that talks about how that volunteer has impacted their life, print it out and stick it in the card.  It will show your ministers that not only do you appreciate them; but, so do the people they serve.

Praise Them Publicly – Brag on your team.  Whether it’s in front of the congregation at your church, or to one of their family members, let them know how proud of them you are.  It might be a little embarrassing for them; however, when you praise someone publicly, it rallies a crowd behind them.  They go from joe-minister to “BIG TIME” volunteer instantly.  Let them know that they can be proud of themselves.

Do For One Even If You Can’t Do For All - There are going to be times when you have the opportunity to spoil at least one of your volunteers.  Maybe someone gave you an Ipad to give away, tickets to the ball game or money to spend.  This is your opportunity to find someone in your ministry to praise.  Then comes that voice, “If you can’t do for all, don’t do it for anyone.” that holds you back from expressing your gratitude.  You’ve been taught to treat others fairly; however, you risk depriving someone of the accolades that they deserve.  When you can do for one what you can’t do for all, you aren’t showing partiality.  Instead you are showing the individual how much you appreciate them.  Too many times when you give something to everyone, it looks formal and insincere.  This is taking opportunity of a blessing you received to pass it on and show someone else that they are blessed too.

There are many ways to thank your volunteers, and how you thank them is going to depend on who they are, and what you have to give.  The important thing is to always think outside of the box.  Let others know how important your team is to you and pour out the appreciation.

How do you thank your volunteers?

Chris (Twitter)



Thinking of getting a gift for your volunteers or students this Christmas? Maybe you stumbled on the blog and you’re looking for a gift idea for the youth pastor at your church. Or … no one is thinking about you so you will solace yourself with gifts. No judgement here, just a recommendation of a place to start your search. Check out the new gift category on Simply Youth Ministry.com – some solid deals in there, too.

JG