YouthESource

Words to Define Outreach

Words to define outreach: OUTRAGEOUS. EXCESSIVE. EXTRAVAGANT.  FANCIFUL.  FANTASTIC. UNRESTRAINED. RUDE.

OUTRAGEOUS seems a rather odd word to use in a youth ministry resource, especially one dealing with the subject of outreach and sharing the faith.  The definitions, which include the words listed above, don’t seem to be all that positive or applicable to youth ministry, let alone outreach.

Can one speak of outreach as EXCESSIVE or EXTRAVAGANT, meaning more than necessary, exceeding the limits?  Is there ever too much faith sharing?  Probably just the opposite, there is never enough, not as long as there are people dying outside of faith in Christ.  That they are dying in their sin is outrageous.

FANCIFUL and FANTASTIC suggests that we are talking about a fairy tale, about something not real but imaginary. Yet, our testimony is about the fantastic truth of Jesus Christ.  It is about what is real and what will last forever.  It is outrageous that a lot of people think the Gospel is a fable or a nice story with a moral.  Really, it is the “power of God for salvation.”  (Romans 1:16)

UNRESTRAINED. Wouldn’t it be great if all Christians gave up our reluctance and hesitancies and shared what we know about Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, the hope and support He gives us in this life, and the promise of an eternity spent with Christ in heaven? No holds barred. No chains. We’ve got a story to tell. Let’s tell it. It’s outrageous that we are so often so shy and reluctant.

What about RUDE?  Can God’s people ever be justified in being rude?  One definition of rude is “simple and elemental.”  And in that sense, I believe we can be rude: Simply telling the truth about sin and redemption, simply being honest about the reality that there is one way to heaven and that it is Jesus Christ.  Christians can be rude by being realistic in understanding that all religions are not alike, that we have a message God wants us to share, and we have to share it even if it offends.

Some would say that “Outrageous Outreach” is just plain foolishness in this tolerant day and age. But then again, that’s always been the case.

St. Paul once said, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”  (I Corinthians 1:18,25)

What is truly OUTRAGEOUS is that we wouldn’t want to share the Gospel with “those who are perishing.”  It is outrageous to think that we have nothing to say or that somebody else can do the hard work of outreach, that it’s “not my job”. That’s eternally rude. That’s truly outrageous.

Published May 2004

Published May 1, 2004

About the author

As the Director of LCMS Youth Ministry, Terry Dittmer seeks to advocate for young people and to empower young people to be God’s people in the world and to empower people to “confess” their faith in celebratory and expressive ways. Terry and his wife, Cherie, have five adult children.
View more from Terry

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