Giving back to your community is a great experience for most Christian teens. However, many youth groups do not have the opportunity for long-term outreach activities
simply because people do not know how to plan an ongoing activity in their communities. Rather than having a one-time outreach event, there are some activities that can be done week after week to reach out to the people around you while allowing students to be an example of Christ. Here are some steps to planning an effective and long-lasting outreach activity:
Time Required: Varies
- What Activity? Before you start any major planning, you need to figure out what activity you want to do. Do you want to read to school children? Maybe do some tutoring? How about bringing meals or doing the grocery shopping for elderly people? Create a list of potential and interesting outreach activities. See where needs exist in your area.
- Check with Local Organizations. Once you have a list of potential activities, try to hook up with local organizations that will help you in fulfilling your tasks. For instance, if you want to deliver meals to local elderly or disabled individuals, you may want to connect with Meals on Wheels. If you want to do tutoring to high-risk children, you may want to contact your local community center or police department to offer your services.
- Dates and Times. You then need to organize dates and times the outreach will take place. Obviously after school is necessary, but so is taking into consideration safety. If you are going into high-risk areas, most law-enforcement would recommend that you do your activity before dark. Also, elderly people will often go to bed early or not open their doors after dark, so time does need to be taken into consideration. Also, you may want to limit the activity to one or two days per week so Christian teens can also focus on other things like school, church, and family activities.
- Promotion. Advertising your activity is important. Put out flyers and sign-up sheets. Sign-up sheets are very useful, because Christian teens will feel more obligated to show up if they have to put their names and phone numbers down on a sheet of paper. Make sure that you promote the outreach in your service announcements. Include a description of the activity, where it will be located, how students will get there, and a contact person.
- Rules. Before you head out for an outreach activity, you should always go over the rules. Whether this is the fiftieth outing or the first outing there are often new people or Christian teens that forget rules and requirements. Also, make sure you spend some time in prayer before you head out. Remember, you are doing this activity for the Glory of the Lord, so be sure that He is a part of it.
- Stay Connected. Stay connected to your contact person with the organization with which you are participating. Be open to feedback and willing to change as needed. Even though some of the students are Christian teens, they may not all behave as well as you would like. Therefore, as a leader of the outreach activity, you may have to confront some of the students about following rules and meeting requirements.
- Encourage New Participants. Keep the students engaged and invested in the outreach activity. While you may be tempted to just "go with the group you have," eventually those Christian teens grow up and move on to other groups in the church. Therefore, while you need to keep encouraging the group you have, you also need to bring in new students throughout the year. Continuing promotion of your outreach activities and encouragement of the students that participate will go a long way to developing a long-term and successful outreach program.