Sjogren: “The Church seems to be seeing outreach as normal behavior these days. Outreach Pastors are becoming increasingly common on church staffs.”
Serve: “Do you see any encouraging trends regarding outreach across the board?”
Sjogren: “There is certainly more focus on the topic of outreach now than at any point in my years in the Church. People seem genuinely interested in growing in outreach effectiveness. My hope is that this discussion will become many acts of obedience and that creativity will kick in in a big way,”
Serve: “What do you see as the challenges the church is facing right now in order to become outward?”
Sjogren: “Two main subjects come up here–leadership and finances. First, most are trying to find someone to lead outreach in their church. The actual physical work and organizing can be delegated. However, leadership in outreach will only be accomplished as the senior leader(s) are involved. Second, finances are an issue for everyone in this economy. Just recognize that and quit complaining. The only thing worse than a difficult economy is leaders who don’t seem to be able to fixate on any other topic. I recommend you dedicate a certain (and generous!) percentage of your budget to outreach. Dollar amounts don’t mean as much as dedicated, consistent funding that comes in week after week.”
Serve: “What is the main thing a leader needs to know in order to properly launch outreach?”
Sjogren: “Outreach will either start to launch or it will languish and frustrate your people depending on the actions of your senior level leaders–and particularly the senior most leader. As with all matters of leadership, outreach success is a team effort that will include numbers of people. However in this case it is vital that you involve senior leadership from the get go–and for the long haul–in order to properly see your people “get it.” As these few but key people get involved and talk up what they are doing your people will follow suit.
Serve: “What if our leaders aren’t naturally gifted at outreach? Our leaders are more the studious, introverted type.
Sjogren: “Your type or inclination doesn’t really matter. I have been doing this stuff for many years out of sheer commitment (at first anyway–it eventually became a joy). I come up as an introvert on personality inventories. The mark of a leader is she or he sees what is needed to be done and then simply does it. Forget natural inclinations. Do the right thing. God will bless your efforts abundantly. He will show pin the wake of your obedience.”
Serve: “Read any good books lately?”
Sjogren: “You are hitting upon a sore subject with me. I read a LOT as you may know. There is a dearth of original thinking on the Christian scene these days. If I see one more Christian author attempting to cook down a great secular book in hopes of addressing the church audience I think I will scream. Let’s get back to originality with seminal books being penned by Believers. We are in dwelt by the Spirit of God. That means we can so a heck of a lot better job with originality than we have been doing.”