Local Ministries

Expressions of Faith

Balancing and Reaching Out
By Becky Ankeny
Is outreach evangelism? Or is it social action? Posing these questions creates a false need to choose between the two. Jesus assigns both tasks to us, telling us to go into the world to preach the good news, and reminding us how crucial it is to take care of his children who are hungry, ragged, imprisoned, and homeless. Seeing outreach as summed up in “giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’s name” helps us live beyond the need to choose between preaching and bandaging.

First, it is crucial to give the cup of water to those who are literally and metaphorically dying of thirst. My friend Cheri Hampton brought to my attention Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out. In that book, Nouwen reminds people of the need to be hospitable, and one important aspect of hospitality is receiving people as they are. “Really honest receptivity means inviting the stranger into our world on his or her terms, not on ours” (69). I remember the memorial service of my friend Dr. Marge Weesner and all the folks from her prison ministry who came to pay tribute because she went to visit them and made hospitable space for them to “reflect on their pain and suffering without fear, and find the confidence [to] look for new ways right in the center of their confusion” (68).

Second, it is crucial to give the water in Jesus’s name. We reach out to others because of who Jesus is to us. And that is part of what we share. Jesus identified himself as the source of living water, and unless we acknowledge that source, we have only fulfilled half of our assignment. Nouwen refers to the other side of the coin of hospitality as confrontation. What he means by that is that we are present with our friend Jesus when we are being hospitable; we don’t just invite people in so they can housesit for us, but to be present with them. “When we want to be really hospitable we not only have to receive strangers but also to confront them by an unambiguous presence, not hiding ourselves behind neutrality but showing our ideas, opinions and life style clearly and distinctly” (70). I know Marge acknowledged her relationship with Jesus in her prison ministry because its name was “Freedom in the Son.”

Reaching out is inviting the other into a dialogue, being present in relationship and bringing our friend Jesus with us. Let people see us as we are and as we are being transformed, even as we are making space and providing supplies for healing and restoration.

The NWYM Board of Local Outreach is comprised of Friends with gifts, passion and expertise in outreach ministries. This board encourages the work of calling people into life-changing relationships with Jesus Christ, fostering the growth of NWYM churches and promoting peacemaking, social justice and compassionate service in the Northwest. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Develop consistent language to identify the corporate expressions of Body life that are developing within NWYM
  • Develop a procedure that enables our non-traditional faith communities to become officially recognized as “local churches” with appropriate privileges and responsibilities within NWYM
  • Provide resources and training for local faith communities to effectively build bridges of outreach by utilizing evangelism, teaching, compassion, peacemaking and other tools relevant to the needs of their communities
  • Support and communicate to others effective and creative outreach efforts that are operating in NWYM
  • Through resources and training, help our local faith communities effectively share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others and to call people into lifestyles of committed discipleship and Christian community
  • Research and consider developing volunteer options for NWYM people that will encourage both a culture of service and life-long commitment to social concerns/evangelism
    • Disseminate information on compatible ministry options in the Northwest
    • In cooperation with interested NWYM churches, create internships, community houses, and ministry programs that would provide a period of dedicated service for young people out of high school
  • Encourage existing and possibly new service opportunities for retired and otherwise liberated Friends—i.e. Volunteers on Wheels (VOW)
  • Provide education, resources and suggested action for Friends to consider in regard to specific social justice, peace and moral issues in the Northwest—i.e. prison ministries, compassionate services, disaster or poverty relief, peacemaking and justice
  • In cooperation with the NWYM staff, revise a church planting culture and strategy for NWYM
    • Encourage existing NWYM churches and Areas to consider establishing new faith communities
    • Continue to develop Simple/House/Other church models that are fully integrated into NWYM through another local church when possible
    • Advance the work of Hispanic and other cross-cultural church planting in a way that leads to a fully integrated Yearly Meeting
    • Develop a strategy for identifying, equipping and releasing church planters
    • Continue to maintain and monitor the progress of new faith communities and take prompt action if any one of them is not effectively following established guidelines

New life
Gar Mickelson – Local Missionary