Outreach? Does everything really count?

Of course, I only blog when I get really feisty and no matter how many times I speak a truth, it fails to resonate with anyone or anything. If you have been to any Christian church, the word of every hour is “outreach.” In my rudimentary investigation of “outreach” I googled the definition and got the secular take  “an act or instance of reaching out, length or extent of reach” or as is pertinent to our discussion today, “the act of extending services, benefits, etc., to a wider section of the population, as in  community work.” Even that last definition seemed to have something missing from it. This missing place is only clear because some friends of mine insist on calling a service their organization provides “outreach.”

The simple reason you providing this service is not outreach is because you get monetarily compensated for it!

Of course, not my friend’s personally….well, not one of them.

So the thought process goes like this. Our service is lower cost than comparable services ( I don’t know if this is really the case, maybe?) and this is  our only connection with this ethnic group in our community that predominantly uses these services. Both of these reasonings do not an outreach make and even if the reasoning was stellar, resting on those haunches of accepting this as “outreach,” stops or severely slows any real outreach with that community.

Like I said, I don’t know if their services are so much better priced, what I do know is that their organizations gets a significant percentage of their yearly budget from this “outreach.” I mean does Raul’s Discount Banquet Service perform outreach when they normally conduct their business? You provide a service. People pay for that service.

Further, connection through capitalistic enterprise does not equal “outreach.” Maybe your organization should find real ways to really outreach to the community in question. Maybe, find a child in need from that community and donate your service to those neediest community members….that would be some outreach. Maybe cut back the cost of the service the very barest bones so that it is purely covering costs. That might be closer to outreach.

I know a REALLY REALLY REALLY cheap nail salon, especially when you compare it to the neighboring salons. Just because this nail salon gives a discount to their community, thereby increasing customers, doesn’t mean they outreach to their customers. All those Vietnamese ladies are outreaching to groups of fat, white rich and ultimately cheap women. It is laughable.

You can call it connection. You can call it interaction (barely). But please, please do not call it outreach!

 

 

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