Shepherding the Next Generation by Rev. Dr. Terry Tieman
“Community outreach continues to be a powerful hinge for swinging open the door of the church for God’s people to become incarnational disciple makers. Jesus said to His first disciples, “I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Today, He might say to us, ‘You have to go fishing to catch a fish!’” (Excerpt from Skill Builders: Leadership Tools for Opening Doors to Your Community.)
So the important question remains, “Where is the best place to fish?” Or, the way I always put it when I went fishing with my Dad, “Where should I go where you can guarantee that I will catch some fish?”
(Okay, that’s not my Dad—its TV Dad, Andy Taylor & his son, Opie!)
Well, we can’t guarantee any particular place, ministry, or activity, but when it comes to catching fish for Jesus, why not start close to home? In fact, why not start in the home? More specifically, look for children at risk in your neighborhood and community.
Sadly, millions of children are growing up in family situations all over America that put them at high risk for poverty, delinquency, teen pregnancy, incarceration and addiction. These families are in our churches and in our communities. They are our neighbors! And we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19, Romans 13:9 & James 2:8).
How can we go about loving them? A ministry called Shepherding the Next Generation suggests the following ideas:
- Volunteer at a preschool or after-school program in your church or community.
- Organize a parenting class or parent-support group for single parents in your church and community.
- Encourage your church to adopt a local school, ensuring children at risk have what they need to be healthy, prepared learners.
- Speak up for children at risk by educating your policymakers about programs that are proven to help a child have a better future.
(Visit www.shepherdingthenextgeneration.org/resources for additional ideas on how to help at-risk children and their families.)
“Whether it is the inner city or suburbia or some place in between, there we are. Where we find ourselves is the context in which we can demonstrate the love of Christ, build relationships that open hearts to the Word of Christ, sow the seeds of the Gospel and reap an eternal harvest. This is community outreach and has been since the days that Christ walked the streets of Jerusalem and it works!” (Excerpt from Skill Builders: Leadership Tools for Opening Doors to Your Community. Go to http://transformingchurchesnetwork.org/shop/category/skill-builders/, for more information or to order.)