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Open the Doors and Send Out the People: Churches Rediscover Community Service

Contact: Joni Sullivan Baker, Buoyancy PR, 513-319-3231

CINCINNATI, Jan. 10 /Christian Newswire/ -- Just outside your back door is a neighborhood, a community, a world desperately in need of a kind word and a helping hand.

That isn't exactly new news, but many Christians – and many churches – who want to serve people are discovering that many people who need help will never open the doors of the church to look for it.

Increasingly, churches are finding their most effective service comes when they go out into the community instead of waiting for people to come in their doors.

"Tomorrow's generations of unbelievers will not be drawn to the church behind four walls, but to the church that is found serving in local food pantries, homeless shelters and hospices,'' said author Tom Ellsworth in his new book, Beyond Your Backyard: Stepping Out to Serve Others (Standard Publishing, January 2008).

"We cannot do less than GO! Christians of all generations are called to demonstrate their love, share their faith and serve humanity…all for the privilege of introducing others to Jesus."

Ellsworth, who is also a successful minister of a congregation of 2,500 In Bloomington, Indiana, peppers his easy-to-digest book with practical suggestions to make outreach approachable for Christians and churches of all types.

He uses the example of the old but still popular children's finger exercise from Sunday school in which you have to "open the doors" of the church to "see all the people."

"I still believe the two-fisted children's poem has value," Ellsworth comments. "But as we look to the future, I would suggest we teach a slightly modified poem to our kids: 'here's the church, here's the steeple: open the doors, and SEND OUT the people.'"

Using examples from the lives of those in the Bible, Ellsworth teaches his way through the principles of assisting others in our families, neighborhoods, communities, as well as nationally and internationally.

His encouragement applies equally to the individual Christian as it does to a whole congregation.

"It is all too easy to become inward focused instead of outward focused, if we aren't careful," he explains. "Oh sure we are still passionate for the truth, we still desire to exalt Jesus Christ, and we still long for the moment of his return. But in some ways we've lost the urgency of the GO! It is so easy to become satisfied to offer the invitation to COME. Anyone who makes it past the front doors is welcome."

Ellsworth's book will prompt thought and discussion around a dinner table or at a small group, and a discussion guide for group study is also available.

"Identifying those who qualify as neighbors isn't difficult; determining how I should be a neighbor is the challenge," he concludes. "There is no time to waste. We cannot stay in our own backyards and build hedges to make us feel secure. We must get beyond the hedge if we are to fulfill God's plan for our lives."

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Standard Publishing is a recognized leader in providing Christian products and resources for churches and families. Since its founding in 1866, Standard Publishing has been providing true-to-the-Bible resources that inspire, educate and motivate Christians to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. For more information, visit www.standardpub.com.