Outreach 101 <3

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Russ and I have been trying to attend the Wednesday Lenten Services offered at the nearby Lutheran Church as our schedules permit.

This past Wednesday, he was out of town so I put on my big girl pants and went by myself. 

Being long time church attenders and just knowing we humans are creatures of habit, it is always a bit dicey to choose a pew.

Some people find this irritating in the Church, but I don’t mind it. I understand.

We tend to gravitate to certain places to sit – whether it is the coffee shop, a favorite restaurant or the church. 

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I scanned the rows and decided to slip in to one that was semi full.

I moved down to leave room for any late comers, but as I was scooting the gentleman at the end of the group already seated turned and very kindly said to make sure I left room for one as his wife would be coming soon. 

I left space and as I sat down, the couple in front of me both turned to look back and see who was now behind them. 

Being self-conscious I asked if someone else usually sat there and they were so sweet and laughed in agreement that we don’t want to upset the apple cart in the church pews.

Then they introduced themselves by name to me and shook my hand. I told them my name and they made some small talk with me offering some information about their own lives. I did share that I belong to FCC and they tried to think who they knew that went there as well.

As we chatted, the wife of the gentleman next to me arrived and she caught on that I was a visitor so introduced herself and her husband. She also chatted a little with me.  

People who really know me are not at all surprised by this since total strangers who I have not even made eye contact with are drawn to share their life story with me, but I do have a different point to make here.

When the service was over, they once again asked me to repeat my name and then said it was nice to have me attend and repeated their names for me. 

No big deal, right?

But it was huge to me. 

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I was alone and missing my husband. 

I felt vulnerable and unsure of myself. 

And with just a simple conversation, I felt welcomed and included. 

I added four names to people I know and some information about their lives and history in this community. 

It made me realize how important it is for us to do the basics of greeting people and introducing ourselves. 

Our church pastors and staff work hard to bring people to Christ, but it is also our job as ministers of the Gospel to reach out, literally one on one, and make an intentional effort to be welcoming and kind. 

Sharing a little bit about who we are and making room for strangers to make a connection. 

Whether it is in the context of a service at the church or out in the community, we are the extension of the hands and feet of Christ. 

He took time to talk to people, to share Himself with others and to listen to what they wanted to share with Him. 

I pray for God to help me be more outward focused at church and in life <3

All good teaching needs a response…here is mine <3

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I left you on Monday and Tuesday with some of the thoughts that I took down in notes from the Intentional Church Conference held at FCC last Saturday. 

As I mentioned, we only attended the morning sessions as we had places to be and people to see, but it was a packed house and great event for the half day we were able to participate.

Looking back over my notes and even the highlighted points from Monday and Tuesday posted here on the Journey, I step back and have to ask…but what does that look like for me? 

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I have a degree of influence through the roles I am allowed to fill as a Sunday School teacher and co-leader of some of the prayer ministries at my local church. 

I work two days a week in the public setting of a sweet little shop and have been honored and blessed to be given the opportunity to have my own consignment business of clothing in there for the past nine months. 

This has opened the door for me to meet people in that industry in person and through customer service calls.

At least once a week on average, I am the resident adult for the band of brothers and little miss thing…and I still am the voice in the heads of three Reimer kiddos who, like it or not…live under the sphere of my prayers and moods and love and angst.

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There are friends and acquaintances and mentors and mentees who swirl around my days like beautiful butterflies landing and taking off and I miss some opportunities with them, and I catch a few and relish in the fellowship. 

I have my husband who is my best friend and partner and chief supporter and needs me to be the same. 

And on the other side of this screen, on any given day of the week, unknown faces stop by to read the things I have tapped out on these keys. 

So as I look at what living on mission is for me, I realize I am not called to change church policy or hold up signs for or against decisions being made in the political arena. 

For the most part, I know how to love my people well – I just don’t always have the time or energy to do it. 

I know what is right and I know what is wrong and I know that if we all could just figure that out and do it, the world would be better. 

I also am keenly aware I have no power or authority to make people choose to do what is right. 

I am not good at overlooking blatant sin and defiance of God and His Word and so I struggle with how it looks to welcome everyone and make them feel like they belong even when they seem to be thumbing their nose at everything I believe to be true and right. 

So I need help. 

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And I think that is what the biggest takeaway from the conference was for me. 

Each of us must examine ourselves and our devotion to Jesus. 

We need to crack open those Bibles we keep holding up, and read and let it sink in. 

Meditating on what His ministry looked like.

Not coloring it in with modern political correctness nor American moralism, but truly asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts until the Word of God burns in us a fresh passion for Jesus.  

And then, humbling ourselves and asking Him to change and transform us through the power of His Word so that we can walk out into the sphere of real influence He has placed us in…

for me personally…

to look back over that list I made up there at the top and ask God for His eyes and His heart for each group.

And I mean – each group….the ones I already think I love well and the ones that are….

well…

hard to love.

I cannot do this without Him.

We, as the Church, cannot love the people God is sending us to minister to WITHOUT Him.

So my biggest takeaway…

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What am I doing today to spend more time seeking God so that I can be on mission with Him to seek and save the lost? 

And then make it intentional in my life to do more of that and less of the stuff that distracts me from the only thing I can do each day to share the Good News of Jesus Christ that this world so desperately needs.

Last night I attended St Paul’s Lenten service and this prayer of confession was in the bulletin.

I hope they don’t mind me sharing – there is no author credited.

Confession and Absolution

You asked for my hands, that You might use them for Your purpose.

I gave them to You, then withdrew them, for the work was hard.

You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice. I gave You a whisper that I might not be accused.

You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty. I closed them, for I did not want to see.

You asked for my life, that You might work through me. I gave a small part, that I might not get too involved.

Lord, forgive my calculated efforts to serve You – only when it is convenient for me to do so, only in those places where it is safe to do so and only with those who make it easy to do so.

Father, forgive me, renew me, send me out as a usable instrument, that I might take seriously the meaning of Your cross. Amen

If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, I must remind you as we were reminded in the service.

You are forgiven.

Don’t waste the following moments regretting how you have fallen short.

Receive the forgiveness of our Grace-filled God and leave your guilt and shame at the Cross of Christ.

Pick up YOUR cross…and follow hard after Him.

He is worthy <3

Takeaways Part 2 …. <3

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Did you really think I was done pondering my notes from the Intentional Church Conference?

Oh…think again my friend.

While some have minds like steel traps, mine is more like a crock pot.

Stewing over things…mulling them around and holding mini-debates and imaginary dialogue in my head long after everyone else has packed it up and headed for home. 

So for Part 2, I am going to share a couple more quotes that got my attention and then tomorrow I have a plan to share my own heart responses or at least a few. 

Again from Ben Cachiaras –

 “We live on a mission field. The culture war is over and we lost – now all we have is the Gospel.” – said with a kind of half laugh because of course…it’s all we ever needed. 

You may not like how that sounds, but think about it and I will comment tomorrow.

“As leader missionaries it is time to recapture our missionary spirit and remember the mission is to:

  • Leading people to Jesus
  • Raising up new leaders and starting churches”

“We need to create an environment and space where others can find Jesus. The squeeze of persecution is going to finally force us to go out into the mission field.”

“The Church is more despised than every and yet it is needed now more than ever.”

For those who are living outside of the will of God, he has heard this statement:

“The ones who preach Truth and the Gospel don’t accept us and the ones who accept us don’t preach Truth and the Gospel.” 

Ok – there you go…something to chew on for today and I look forward to thinking them through with you tomorrow. 

Have a good day <3

Top five takeaways from the Intentional Church Conference off the top of my head <3

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Top Five Takeaways from the Intentional Church Conference (for me)

This is being typed quickly because I have an appointment this morning and I can.not.be.late.

So our church held something called the annual “Intentional Church Conference” last Saturday. 

Two keynote speakers presented in the morning sessions and I jotted notes, because…that’s what I do, as my numerous journals and spiral notebooks scattered hither and yon can attest to.

I am quickly sharing the top five that jump out at me this morning and then I am outta here.

#1 “The Church is an extension of the Incarnation. We are Plan A.” – Ben Cachiaras

#2 “When the Lord looks at my church (or even just at my life) and what we are doing, does it look like what He wanted us (me) to do?” – Ben Cachiaras

#3 “Radical changes in culture require radical changes in the Church” – Ben Cachiaras

#4 We are no longer the “home team.” The Church and Christ followers are now considered the “away team” in Culture. And this is a good thing because now we can really focus on following Christ. When the early Church faced opposition, disfavor with the culture, persecution..they did not withdraw, attempt to fight the culture or crumble in despair. They went on mission.  – Ben Cachiaras

and 

#5 “Who will you be while you do what you do?” – Nancy Beach

There is more and it was good material. 

We may dig into it here on the blog tomorrow…but that is for tomorrow. 

For today I have to scoot. 

Be blessed. 

Be intentional in sharing the Good News.

Be the hope of Christ personified in your sphere of influence today <3

This and that because it’s Monday <3

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We had a whirlwind weekend full of a church conference, an impromptu afternoon with our kiddos dropping by and a trip to Chicago yesterday.

The Intentional Church Conference offered some great insight into the challenges we who profess to follow Christ are facing in the rapidly changing culture of today.

The kids were full of energy which meant much bike riding, ball throwing and bucket carrying. 

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And the trip to Chicago was where Russ fulfilled some more of his “for better or worse” commitments and drove me to the Spring Stylemax at the Merchandise Mart so I could order the rest of spring and summer clothing for Tournesol. 

I want to give you a few takeaways from the conference in tomorrow’s post so you have that to look forward to.

The pics scattered throughout the post catch you up on some of the fun we had with that little crew of loveliness.

And to sum up our trip to Chicago…

<3  I will take the concept of four cars ahead of me at the traffic light being rush hour EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of my life, please and thank you.

<3 If I ever wonder what my face would look like at a hardware store convention, I have seen it mirrored on my dear husband as he found benches to sit on and marveled at the sights that are the world of fashion. 

<3 I am beyond thankful for that man because he allowed me an opportunity at this age and stage in my life and encouraged me to pursue something that I always held in a spot tucked away in my heart filed under impossible dreams. 

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<3 We drove home alongside the edge of a pretty serious storm. On one side of the highway was clear skies and a bright sunset and on the other side was the darkest, heavy cloud. Rain was pounding down on us even though the light of the sun was pouring in through the passenger side of the car. 

As we outdrove the front, off to the side where the storm was, there was the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen. I was driving or you would have a pic, but the light of it caught my eye. 

I am not exaggerating – the bottom of the bow was visible on the field right outside my window. 

I have never seen a rainbow that close or that tangible. 

I pray today whatever storms you are on the edge of or in the middle of, you experience the tangible proof that your God is WITH YOU and I pray He delights you and I pray that you worship Him when He does that incredible thing that affirms His Presence and His Promise FOR YOU!!!!!

I hope you have a great Monday!