The Shape of Faith

Upreach Inreach Outreach CUpReach, InReach, OutReach. Each describes a critical element of faith. They have been the guide for many – providing the basic goals for a church or the foundation of an individual Christian life. There are so many ways to describe them. All three are worthy of our time, reflection and practice. And much has been written about each dimension of faith.

But we make a serious mistake if we see them as separate concepts. They are made for each other.  They work best together.  And their deepest meanings are distorted and shallow when we isolate them from each other.

Together, they form a picture of balance.  One is the fuel. The other two are the faith engines it powers, as it moves through our world, changing lives and making a difference.

UpReach is my relationship with God.

He is my Creator, my Father, my Origin, my Motivation and my Fuel. He is the Beginning of my life and the very reason that I live. Life cannot proceed without UpReach. But, life must proceed with UpReach. It must express itself in the next two relationships, or it is not real.

InReach is my relationship with other believers.

Like me, they are moving across the landscape of this world. Sometimes we call InReach “fellowship” or “church” or “body life.” It is the brotherhood of the Christian community, reaching into each other’s lives to share the heart of our Father. Why? Because no single human life is able to perceive all that UpReach offers. We are not designed to be alone in our faith. This is why InReach is an essential place of nurturing, sharing and teaching, as God utilizes a variety of lives … women and men, old and young, single and married. One will see what his sister has overlooked.  Another will clarify what her brother has misunderstood. And together our faith that began in UpReach, will deepen and mature through the “one-another-ness” of InReach, as God prepares us for OutReach.

OutReach is my only other human relationship.

It describes where we all began – outside. God found us there and brought us inside the door of faith. But now that we are inside, OutReach describes the mission we share with the Father. Now, He reaches out, through us, to rescue others who are outside of faith.

UpReach … InReach … OutReach. Together they are the shape of faith.

16 Replies to “The Shape of Faith”

  1. I was wondering, where did you get the concept of Upreach, Inreach, Outreach? I was blown away when I saw this, because about 3 years ago, God began revealing to me a plan for worship, enrichment, and growth, and the very words that came to my mind were Upreach, Inreach, and Outreach. Please respond, I am so curious!

    1. Tim, I have used UpReach, InReach & OutReach as a ministry template for more than 25 years. I have presented retreats, seminars and classes to groups here in the US as well as to groups in Africa, Europe and South America. In fact, I am building an elder’s leadership retreat around “The Shape of Faith” and will present it next month in California. The concept was born out of my campus ministry experience. While serving at Memphis State University (now University of Memphis), I determined that each semester I wanted the students in our ministry to have significant experiences in each of their three major relationships. Jesus is actually the author of the idea when he said to love God and my neighbor. UpReach represents my relationship with God and I have two kinds of neighbors, those who know God (InReach) and those who don’t know God (OutReach). These are all the relationships that I have – God and two kinds of neighbors. In the beginning I drew a three-part flowchart that moved through the university semester with activities, experiences and opportunities for our students. I wanted to know that at the end of the school year each student had been given the opportunity to experience the balance of Up/In/Out. I have had a book developing inside my mind for a long time. It will be called, “the Shape of Faith.” I know exactly what each chapter will say, how the book will flow and why it needs to be written. Now, I need the time to write it.

  2. Wow, that is so amazing. It was about 3 years ago when I was working at a congregation that the ideas started to shape on paper for how a congregation should be orgaized in terms of spiritual emphasis. Then as I would study scripture I would see the concepts leap off the page at me, I saw it as you said in the two greatest commands, I saw it in the Book of Acts, in the layout of the letters of Paul, etc. I am certain that God is wanting me to use these ideas for future ministry. I have recently been let go from a chuch because I was too “liberal,” i.e. I taught grace, and spiritual transformation based on the completed work of Christ. Look forward to seeing your book one day!

  3. Hello! uncle Bob, I am Sam your former student at the the Nationwide Bible institute now Heritage Christian College.I love your lessons on UPREACH-INREACH – UPREACH.I have used it to teach and still applies them daily in my teaching and work among the deaf.
    God bless you.

  4. Loved the post on upreach/inreach/outreach. Where could I get the lessons on this that Sam mentioned in his post? I am learning that the church I serve has inreach problems. We love God and outsiders, but have a problem with those inside. I realize this is problematic in loving God; but it is where I serve. Having only been here a few months, I am just now getting into the heart of some of the issues. Looking forward to your help with this. Thaks.

  5. I too who have been following th is post for a LONG time, 🙂 LOL would like the same resource if its available.

  6. I’m Just getting the concept of the inreach upreach outreach, and another downreach. Do you have some type of curriculum that will haelp me teach it and apply it.

  7. Bob, do you have a manual or book concerning upreach, inreach and outreach. I would like to present this model to my church



    1. Thanks for your inquiry regarding UpReach/InReach/OutReach. To answer your question, I am currently writing a book. I also have an extensive seminar that I have presented both nationally and internationally. I prefer to make the presentation myself and can fill several days or do an abbreviated weekend. I have presented it to gatherings of church leaders and missionaries in both Europe and South America and to schools of ministry here in the US and in West Africa. In fact, I will be traveling to Africa twice this year to meet with two different groups of ministers to present this model. Up In and Out is the vision that my church is following. I spent 12 weeks of Sundays presenting the concept to the congregation and would be glad to discuss the possibility of teaching a group that you could bring together. Let me know how I can help.

      1. Hello my name is. Hector Rodriguez and I am a pastor here in Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico I am very interested in having you share the Up/In/Out here. how can we make this happen. Thank you and May god keep on blessing your life, family and ministry.

      2. Hello Hector. Thanks for your comments and for your invitation. I regret that my time away for 2015 is already taken. I am traveling to Croatia, Sinapore and Israel. But I do hope to write more on the Up/In/Out topic.

  8. Glad to hear that a book is in the works. Did you have those sessions at your church taped? God bless!

  9. Hello, I’m very interested In your book. Is it finished.
    If so, where can I purchase it?

  10. Hi Bob, I’m very new to faith but growing daily in my walk with Jesus. I had a rather unusual introduction to Chistianity through a vision in a steam room where I heard 3 words I would in all honesty never expected to hear as a confirmed atheist “God loves you”. I have a vision of a beautiful golden crucifix which came up from the floor and wrapped itself around me. It was as if I was a child gathered in its fathers arms when I heard these 3 simple but life changing words. I was left with an overwhelming sense of peace, serenity and tranquility, which transcends anything I have ever felt or could imagine. The only way I can explain the magnitude of the sense I was left with was as if I had briefly touch a part of heaven, I was healed, there were no worries concerns, anxieties, fears but an enduring sense of Gid rest. I realise now that the crucifix filled the gap in my life which had been there since a child, years of therapy, self help, hypnosis an other alternative therapies had never fixed the emptiness I carried with me from a child. But in that moment I was heal my spirit filled with His.
    I’m currently prayer walking in the area where I live on the south coast of England and been doing door to door evangelism for nearly a year, my is very different nowadays but like everyone I struggle withe flesh from Tim to time.
    Please let me know if you have any dates in England or Europe your ‘Up reach, in reach and out reach are such a necessary part of individual ministry.
    Warmest blessing

  11. I love this article. It was very uplifting and easy to understand.

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