7 Simple Outreach Ideas

I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to really love the people He puts plainly in my path.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.'” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

But this love, as God’s Word declares, is more important than all the sacrifices we could make.

I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something. So can you. We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt us and rearrange our day.

We can go deeper … beyond a hurried “Hi!” to an authentic, “How are you?” When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.

Will you do it? Will you try? Then once you’ve reached out, leave the results to God. Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.

Was there ever a time you felt God nudging you to reach out to a neighbor, coworker or other person in your life, whom you didn't know very well? Here are Seven Simple Outreach Ideas at karenehman.com.

Here are 7 simple outreach ideas to do with those in your neighborhood, town or whomever you are wanting to reach with the love of Christ.

1. Bake something.

Bake a batch of cookies. Whip up a pan of brownies. Try your hand at some fancy muffins or scones. Deliver them in a basket lined with a new plaid kitchen towel to a neighbor or someone at work. Simply tell them you were thinking about them so you decided to bake them a little goodie. As you leave your treat, ask them if there is anything you can be praying about. Follow up with a handwritten note letting them know that you did pray for their request.

2. Take something.

Don’t have time to deliver some lovin’ from your oven? It doesn’t need to be homemade from scratch. You can also fill a basket with some seasonal fruits or vegetables or even purchased goodies from a farmers market. Try some crusty whole-grain bread and a jar or two of jam or a few jars of salsa and a bag of authentic tortilla chips.

3. Notice something.

Be on the lookout or ways to help your neighbor or coworker. Did you notice that the neighbor down the street was scraping their shed, ridding it of old peeling paint? The next time you see them out working away, show up with a scraper and a jug of homemade lemonade and help them tackle their chore. Did you overhear your coworker talking about their favorite childhood book? Go online to eBay and try to win them a copy of it. Wrap it up and give it to them as an un-birthday present.

4. Listen.

Don’t just smile and wave as you pass by a neighbor’s house. Stop. Engage them in conversation. Ask what they have been up to lately or how their family members are doing. Really listen as they talk. If you sense any area of concern, let them know you will be praying for them. Don’t forget to ask if there is anything you can do to help.

5. Organize.

Organize a get-together with your coworkers, or those in your neighborhood. My husband is famous for this. We have held several Christmas open houses, backyard neighborhood picnics, a crazy neighborhood game of road bowling and even a neighborhood Bible study. Or try an ice cream social. You provide bowls, spoons and napkins. Have guests bring one container of any flavor ice cream and one topping. I have one friend whose family does this every year on June 21 since it is the longest day of the year and stays light until quite late. It is surprising how willing people are  to get together. They just need a point person to organize the gathering.

6. Lighten a load.

Is there someone in your neighborhood struggling with a family illness, recent death, or new addition to the family? No doubt they could use a little help. Look for creative ways to help with a task. Do they have older children who need to be run to activities by mom but the family has a brand new baby? Offer to play shuttle service for their children for a few weeks so mom can stay home and not have to take the baby back and forth to activities.

7. Invite.

Hospitality is a lost art in our day and age. Summertime is a perfect time to invite others into your home. You can even relax about having the house clean and eat outside on a picnic table. Keep the food simple. Grill out or even order pizza. The point it to open your home, not to impress others with your cooking. Or if you prefer, invite them to accompany you on an outing such as a sporting event, festival or fair, or outdoor concert. Then, go to a local ice cream shop or coffeehouse for a treat and some time to visit.

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For ideas on sprinkling God’s love all year round, check out Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered WorldKaren Ehman encourages us to to live alert, listening for “heart drops,” hints from those in our lives who need a helping hand or a generous dose of encouragement. Living alert lifts our own spirits, showing us that blessing others blesses us even more. Listen, Love, Repeat offers biblical teaching and suggests doable actions that are simple, heart-tugging, sentimental, even sneaky and hilarious. For a sneak peek at Listen Love Repeat, sign up for Karen’s How to Hear a Heart Drop five-day challenge.

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  • Notice, listen, and invite are all actions that seem so simple and yet somehow difficult to implement in my life. I find slowing down and being aware of God in everything I do big or little allows me to be more open to notice, listen and to invite. Thank you for the great article. :)

  • I need to work more on noticing how those around me are struggling, and finding ways to help. I LOVE the ice cream social idea! I am going to talk to some women I know and see about setting one up and having everyone bring their favorite verse. I know that I definitely can use a spiritual refresher every now and then, and I love to hear from other women how different scriptures reach out to them.

  • I’m working doing more impromptu invites for dinner. I’m focusing on knowing it doesn’t have to be fancy or planned weeks in advance.

  • All of your tips are great, I would like to organize a neighbor night this summer, living on a farm it may not be easy to do as there are miles that separate us and farm work to be done but I was throwing around the idea of a progressive meal that would have us move around from family to family. Just sharing time with each other and catching up on our busy lives slows us down long enough to enjoy the simple fellowship we have with each other.

  • I love the idea of baking something and taking it to my new neighbors! I usually try to do this when someone new moves in. Recently I have thought more about the people who stand on the side of the road with a sign that says “homeless,” looking for handouts. Instead of giving them money with which they will buy who knows what, I love the idea of making a “care bag” of essentials they could use: a few toiletries, some non-perishable food items, and even a gift card to a fast-food restaurant nearby, so they can buy something to eat. Another good item to put in the bag would be the address of a local food bank or soup kitchen or church who can help them.

  • What to wear this autumnIf you think the rugged look of a US dockworker will show off your ripped arms and please your missus, read on. There are practical benefits to adopting this style, too, as your clothes will have multiple pockets, handy for your iPod, wallet and keys. And you\’ll be comfortable in easy to wear twills and cottons (raw or greige). We know how you go nuts for those greige cottons. (Yep,, we had to Google cotton to find out what it was, too.)Suits who: Everyone. One of the fu

  • I love all these ideas – they are great and I have tried some of them. In our Sunday School class we have a committee of women/couples who take meals to elderly that have no family to cook or look after them. The food and visit is much appreciated. My mother took the tape ministry from the church and delivered them to the shut-ins each week that were not able to come to church. All these things and more can be done for the elderly or others that need some love and need to know that God loves them and so do we and we want to show them through our acts of love. Sure hope I win a copy of the book! Thanks for the opportunity.

  • I’m actually sharing your Proverbs 31 post of June 18, 2014 and the 7 simple ideas posted on your blog… Our family reunion is this Sunday June 22, 2014 and I have down the prayer devotion service for the last 3 years… I’m blessed that I can always turn to Proverbs 31 to share with my family

  • I enjoy reading the Proverbs 30 devotionals from all the writers, but your posts seem to speak to me as if you know me! Thank you for your ideas for outreach. This is one area i really need to work on in my life. I am going to get brave and invite several neighbors over for dinner at my house. Also, I am going to engage more when I see people in the grocery store with more than a simple hi when I see people I know. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • What an encouraging and challenging article. I have two neighbors that I have only met briefly, and this is spurring me on to do more. Right now, we have fresh home-grown strawberries. What an easy way to reach out and to try to build bridges between our family and these families who live so close. Hopefully, the Lord will use this to help me tell them about Him and to show them Christ’s love.

  • Well, this summer I’ll be helping a friend out who just moved. I plan to take her kids out swimming with mine, so that she will have plenty of time alone to do whatever organizing she needs/wants to do without little distractions.

  • We have lived in our neighborhood for 2 years now and know a few of the people, but not real well. Some people we don’t know at all. My husband and I have already been talking about doing something to meet everyone and your post is confirmation! We plan to make invitations, send them to people on our street addressed Our Neighbors, then the address. We will open our garage up, have punch and cookies and get to know everyone!

  • I have a neighbor, not even 9 doors down, just accross the street, that I have been feeling a nudge to go meet, but have only waved to, thinking just like you explained in your post, “she knows I am on my way to work, busy, can’t stop now”. I make too many excuses that cause me to miss opportunities to let God work through me. I get too hung up on doing it “right” instead of just stopping for a moment and letting God use the moment. Thank You! (sharing your list with my ladies Bible Study group )

  • I have already started doing many of these… but need to do it more often. Many elderly live in out small town and are alone much of the time. Just your time means alot to them. Love your ideas… thanks

  • We have a neighbor who has a mother in law that has just bought a house. Her m-i-l is having to live with her until d-i-l gets the house fixed up for her. I believe I will find out the next time she is going to work onthe house and go help!

  • I love the idea of baking goodies and delivering to neighbors–it reminds me of simpler times when this was more common. My neighbors did this for us when we moved into our new home and we have developed a great friendship. I will make every effort to do the same with my new neighbors!

  • My husband and I love our flower gardens. We enjoy inviting friends and acquaintances to view our gardens. Sometimes we have a meal. Sometimes it is just ice tea and conversation. It is always rewarding to share God’s creation with others.

  • I LOVE the icecream idea! We love having people, and something that I love doing is having neighbours over for a midwinter potluck dinner. I’ve been transplanted from Canada to NZ, and I miss having a winter Christmas. So this has been heaps of fun, and a great way for our family to meet neighbours, or invite friends and some new people from church!

  • My children and I are brainstorming this right now! We left candies for our neighbors Christmas and Easter and are plotting that and when to do next. We are thinking maybe July 4 and making rockets filled with treats.