Is Your Outreach Sneaky? 4 Ulterior Motives You Must Avoid

Sometimes, we have destructive ulterior motives to doing outreach in the first place.

Is Your Outreach Sneaky? 4 Ulterior Motives You Must Avoid

Outreach is vital in the life of the church. Helping the community is a way in which to leave a positive lasting impression of Jesus in the lives impacted. Sometimes, though, we have destructive ulterior motives to doing outreach in the first place.

I admit that when I am planning or implementing outreach, I sometimes let my mind wander to some ulterior motives.

See, Christians and likewise the church are called to help those less fortunate out of the goodness we have because of Jesus. Not any other reason.

When we go out of our way as a church to help people just because we want to be like Jesus, the following things might happen. But, if they are our original motive then they are misguided.

Here are some ulterior motives we should avoid in outreach:

Only Getting People in the Church

The first misplaced motive when implementing outreach is, “Well maybe we can get more people to visit the church.” So what we do is plan events at the church to get people in the door, or everything we do is led by this intention.

Now, certainly if the outreach your church is doing is drawing people in then celebrate! Just let it be a result of pure intentions and good hearts, not the only motive for doing any outreach at all!

Improving the Church’s Reputation

The next bad motive we can have in doing outreach for the church is, “We can improve our reputation in the community.” When we think like this it is dangerous because it will steer what we do and when we do it. We will want to be as loud as possible with our actions.

So instead of quietly reaching out to the abandoned widows down the street, we will do something else that is flashier to the public.

Getting Church People Involved

Another toxic motive to doing church outreach is trying to get people involved in ministry: “If we do so and so project maybe we can get some people out of the pews and into the community.” The problem with this thinking is that it will define our “success” by how many people get involved in the projects.


The final destructive motive to engaging in church-wide outreach is, “We can receive publicity by doing this!” Because of this bad motive, churches call the paper when they hand out coats, or call the news station when they do something else that is good. The problem with this is that it does not show the heart of Jesus, it instead displays worldly influence: “Do this because it makes us look good.”

So, the thing about all of  these misguided motives for church-wide outreach is that they are not bad things. They are just bad things to motivate the outreach itself. When we do outreach well and help people in the community like Jesus would have, many times these things will be results. That is good!

Let these be the fruit of good outreach, not your ulterior motive in the first place.

Any More Ulterior Motives You Can Think Of?

Joe Hoagland
Joe Hoagland is a pastor at Gape Grove Church of Christ in Jamestown, Ohio. He co-founded and regularly writes for that site. He is newly married to his awesome wife Jenna and together they have 2 spoiled dogs and a cat. He loves to lead people to Jesus and preach God's word. You can often times find Joe hiking, camping, writing, reading, or enjoying technology.