Several days ago, I had the opportunity of going door to door in my hometown of Lynn, Massachusetts and listening to the hearts of my neighbors. As I spoke with my neighbors using the questions included in the “compassion by design survey,” I found many common concerns and interests for the community. The city of Lynn is notorious for its crime and substance abuse, but is also recognized on a more positive note for its diversity. In order to have the most impacting outreaches, I believe that the first thing that needs to be done, is to pinpoint the greatest concerns of the community and then center the mission of the outreaches around those concerns. In order to make those outreaches most effective, you must provide a welcoming atmosphere by catering to the community’s common needs and interests!
According to twenty people surveyed in West Lynn, Lynn is best known for its diversity. The most recognized services in Lynn are: Dunkin Donuts (which also goes for much of the northeast in general), Union Hospital, Lynn Woods Reservation, and My Brother’s table. Some of the biggest concerns in Lynn are: the crime rate, drug abuse, the educational system, and transportation. Specifically, downtown Lynn is where most of the concern is manifested. My brother’s table, which is a homeless shelter, was the most recognized compassion organization that serves out of Lynn. Coming only second to Lynn’s diversity, the sense of community in Lynn was a popular theme.
Based on the previous information gathered, an outreach, which would certainly benefit the city of Lynn, is a cultural awareness themed event. Another outreach that could be effective is a kids and youth day at Lynn woods. Finally, would be to work right out of My Brother’s Table. In each of these outreaches would be prayer tents, with workers available to pray for the needs of the families present. A crucial part of an outreach is the follow-up. This can be done in various ways, but based on the result of the most well known coffee shop in Lynn being Dunkin Donuts, I believe going to a person’s address with a gift card to Dunkin Donuts would be an awesome way to connect to people after the outreach.
Cultural Awareness Outreach
Given that the diversity in Lynn was found to be such a popular topic, I think it would be extremely impactful to have a gathering of people in Lynn from cultures and ethnicities of all sorts in a large area such as the commons in Lynn. The commons of Lynn is a huge grass area downtown, with a gazebo. It is often swarming with people of all ages, from teens playing soccer to parents and their children taking a stroll, and elderly dog-walkers. Prior to doing an outreach of this magnitude, it would be important to understand the predominant cultures in Lynn, especially in the downtown area. Also, security in the downtown area of Lynn is absolutely crucial. Given the magnitude of this outreach, fundraising would be unavoidable. Despite the financial hurdle, the result could change the entire city for good. Once that research is complete than the fun can begin. The idea is along the lines of something like a missions banquet in church, in the sense that there would be booths sharing the greatest things about each individual’s ethnicity and culture. Things such as food, music, dance, art, etc. could be included in these booths. This way the community would be able to share their heritage with their family and friends, remember their home, and get to meet new people, specifically the church members running the booths. Soccer could also be an extremely useful tool to gather in the youth, maybe even run a tournament based on the different countries present. This event would have to be run similar to Hope4Philly, with much preparation and participation.
Youth and Children Lynn Woods Outreach
Lynn Woods is an area that is known throughout the surrounding cities and especially those living in the city. “Lynn Woods Reservation is the second largest municipal park in the greater Boston area. This 2,200 acre forest reserve consists of ponds, wetlands, streams, deciduous/evergreen forest and rocky ledge” (http://www.flw.org/). Given the status of this area, this would provide an awesome time of fellowship with particularly younger children and youth. I believe that children and youth would be the target audience, simply because the atmosphere would be perfect for a camp-like setting. Sports, hiking, scavenger hunts, a huge picnic, etc. I think this would be an awesome opportunity for youth pastors and children pastors to connect with the young children of this broken city. Much of the gang violence and drug abuse is done by youth. If we as a community of believers were to simply care enough for these youth to show them a good time and give them a hope for a better future we would not only effect the younger population but the older as well. Parents would come to know the Lord through their children’s enthusiasm. And as mentioned before, the follow-up process is ideal, obviously it would have to be done with the permission of parents, but getting these kids plugged into a local church is what it is truly all about.
My Brother’s Table
The homeless in Lynn are another group of people, which are unfortunately continuing to grow, as the economy gets worse. My brother’s table is an organization that many churches work through in order to put food on the table for those who would not eat otherwise. It is sad to see people dying of hunger even in a wealthy country like the USA. This would be a low cost outreach, at least in comparison to the other two, yet would still be able to impact various hopeless men and women. In order to creatively turn this into an outreach opposed to a “church outing,” those involved could donate clothing to also distribute, and instead of canned foods and such, maybe make a gourmet meal that you would see at a buffet. Doing this could open a door to minister to those in need. After feeding them it is also important to give them other opportunities, such as finding job openings, barbers, showers, and ultimately a local church home.