Service is at the heart of all outreach. Think about how Jesus described his mission: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) If you are going to reach out to any portion of your community, your church needs to be known as a people who serve. Who care about others and help them.
That’s why I think that the biggest way to reach out to the Latino community is to think about how best to serve them. How to get involved in their lives and help them. Some of it can be formal, like ESL and GED classes at your church building. Immigration and legal seminars. After-school tutoring for kids.
But that “formal service” needs to be accompanied by informal service. People who just help. Who lend a hand when they can. Giving someone a ride. Helping carry groceries. Helping push start a car. Not just Latinos or the specific group your church is trying to reach. Serve everyone you can.
Service includes doing what you can to make someone’s day better. Seeing people as people and not part of the scenery. The waitress has a name and a life with challenges. The cashier at the store has something they are worried about. The guy mowing the lawn at your kid’s school is a human being who could use a smile and a kind word. I remember hearing Stanley Shipp say, “Everyone you meet should have a better day because they met you.”
There is a trap, of course. Service doesn’t replace telling people about Jesus. It won’t explain to them the fact that he died for them so that they could live forever. Service is not an end in and of itself.
But it’s a big part of who we are to be, as Christians.
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant* is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12–17)