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Managing a Spiritualist Center

Innovative Outreach Ideas for Small Churches
By:Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Today, churches provide outreach programs to the community around them. Small churches can't do it all, but they can provide some outreach efforts that make a difference.

Food Ministries
Small churches can help feed the hungry in their communities. A community garden located on church property (check zoning laws first) can provide produce for residents who help with the planting, weeding and harvesting. Programs like Angel Food ministries distribute food at reduced prices that residents purchase with cash or food stamps. Food pantries store free food hungry families need when their resources aren't enough. These programs can run at no or low cost to the church and impact the lives of community residents with God's love.

Education Ministries
In an economy where jobs are scarce and job training is necessary, a small church can offer job training assistance and connect community businesses with people who need work. An English as a second language (ESL) program helps immigrants to learn English and acclimate into the community. Tutors work one-on-one with school children and teach adults who need educational assistance to pass the GED. Other possibilities include teaching job candidates how to dress and present themselves at job interviews, offering computer skills classes and providing life coaches for individual help. These programs run on volunteer help and don't require a lot of funding.

Support Groups
Support groups need places to meet and even small churches have available space they can use to assist these programs. Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and other 12-step programs appreciate church support and the use of available space. Church and community members benefit from grief support, divorce recovery, parenting support and abuse survivor support groups. Other possibilities include specialized group support for parents with special-needs children, adult children caring for aging and sick parents and AIDS support programs. The support groups could make a donation to the church to help with utilities cost and paying staff to lock up after them.

Building Community
Programs that build community also help build the church. Church volunteers willing to work in a parents-night-out program give kids a safe place to be while parents have some time alone. Senior adult lunch and activity programs offer a haven of safety for older community members to fellowship and share a healthy meal. Summer lunch and activity programs for kids give parents safe options for school-aged children while parents work. Fees and government grants provide some funding for these programs so the bulk of the expense is covered.