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lit·mus test
/ˈlitməs ˌtest/
a test in which a single factor (such as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive

As the new year begins, there is often a desire to simplify—to find clarity and focus that will guide us through the coming months.  

What if there was a simple litmus test that could help the church determine which outreach events and programs to keep, which to discontinue, and which need updating? 

Recently a dozen outreach leaders in the Great Lakes region met to share what they’ve been learning from the ways their churches are trying to connect with and share the good news with their neighbors. Through this conversation, a simple litmus test emerged:

“How is this helping us develop deeper relationships with our neighbors?”

One leader described how a free clothing pantry changed when they decided to create a simple coffee shop (with free coffee and snacks) alongside it. Now, instead of the neighbors coming and going with a simple “hello,” volunteers had the chance to sit down with them and get to know them better.

Another leader shared that, instead of one big summer outreach event, they just took popsicles to the local park at the same time each week all summer long. Being present consistently gave them an opportunity to develop relationships with people they met in the park.

Maybe this litmus test isn’t just for planning outreach events. Maybe this is the litmus test that Jesus gives to the church for everything we do: How is this helping us love God and love our neighbors more and more? How could your church simplify with this clarity and focus in the coming year?

Written by Amy Schenkel, Resonate's Regional Mission Leader for the Great Lakes region.

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