Have you ever tried to start a fire outdoors?
You need to start it in a place where it can be contained, but should you choose a fire pit or fireplace? While they both provide warmth and light, it’s accomplished in different ways. Things to consider are:
How many people will you be accommodating?
What type of mood are you trying create?
How affected by wind is the surrounding area?
Is there a view you’d like to take advantage of?
Then you need tinder. Small, dry twigs and branches or newspaper. Something that can catch the spark and light quickly.
Kindling is next. Slightly larger than tinder, it burns easily and gets the fire really going. As it burns, it becomes the “coal bed” that remains hot at the core of the fire.
Logs go on your fire last, building it up and keeping it burning. As long as you continue to place logs on the fire, it should continue to burn.
But the most important thing you need to start a fire is a fire source.
Fire can be caused by friction. Whether that’s a match striking a surface, steel striking a flint, or two pieces of wood being rubbed together in a burst of speed, it’s most effective when a softer surface comes up against a harder surface.
It’s not unlike conducting local church outreach.
You need to start in a place where it can be “contained.” It wouldn’t make sense to take on your entire state for your first outreach. You also need to agree on its purpose and how to accomplish it. Things to consider in your location might include:
What are the demographics?
What are the needs?
What is the culture?
Keeping it contained keeps resources from being stretched too thin. It allows you to serve a smaller group well as you build relationships, learn, tweak, and Lord willing, grow.
You also need tinder. That may be just you – a single person open and willing to act on God’s leading -or it maybe two or three with a vision, all excited for what God has in store. Those who act as tinder allow others to catch the vision quickly and get the fire started.
Your kindling is a slightly larger group – a team of people to help work out the details and spread the fire-vision. They provide energy as the coal bed, keeping the core idea alive and burning.
Your logs are your volunteer base. As long as this base is engaged, interactive, and growing, the fire will continue. Just as logs burn up and new ones need to be added to keep a fire healthy and performing its purpose, people don’t serve in the same capacity forever. They go through different life phases – children, jobs, health issues, moves, joining other ministries – which cause the need for new volunteers to rise up and take on the task with purpose and passion.
But the most important facet of outreach is the Source of the fire-vision. He uses those with soft hearts to reach out to those who may be hard-hearted toward eternal things. Friction may occur as the two interact, but done properly, a fire is created that provides warmth and light. Never lose sight of the fact that you can have tinder, kindling, and logs, but without fire, all you have is a pile of dry brush.
What is God saying to you about the needs of your particular community? The upcoming holidays are a wonderful time to explore the idea of church outreach. People are receptive to giving and receiving acts of kindness. It doesn’t need to be anything big and fancy. Remember the words of the old song “Pass It On.”
It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around can warm up in the glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it.
You spread His love to everyone, You want to pass it on.
Matthew 5:15-16 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.