Keep It Simple by Steve Sjogren

outreachEven though we have a dozen points here about starting vital outreach the basic idea behind Kindness Outreach is quite simple.

My tendency is to jump into something I find exciting and to stir things up as much as possible. Sometimes stirring things up creates complexity. Life just flows that direction. As others catch the vision of the new thing, before long, the idea can become fairly complicated.

Is there a way to keep things easier? Absolutely!

Outreach is all about one thing – seeing people come to relationship with Christ. The word “outreach” is a more general word than “evangelism.” The first is about the entire spectrum of things we can do that lead up to someone coming to Christ. The term Evangelism is a more concise term that relates strictly to seeing someone cross the line and come into a saving relationship with Jesus.

To keep all of this simple, we need to remember what we are about. We aren’t about 1,000 good things that might better peoples’ lives but don’t include seeing them come to know Christ. If the ultimate outcome isn’t to see them converted then we are losing track of what we are about. We are lost in complexity.

People who stay simple, who are focused like a laser, can be almost rude at times. They tend to be so focused they repel nice people who come with nice ideas about nice things that will bless people. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. There are plenty of places for that in fact. In the area of outreach, however, we must walk out the balance of smiling and at the same time walk in gritty determination to do whatever it takes to venture on.

St. Patrick – Patron Saint of Servant Evangelism by Steve Sjogren

St. Patrick Patrick lived a life of tragedy turned into victory. That’s supposedly why we celebrate March 17th by eating special Irish foods and drinking green beer. These are supposed to be celebrations of a life redeemed.

This time of year there is a lot of hoopla around a lot of silliness that has little to do with the origins of St. Patrick’s Day. Somehow I don’t think the real St. Patrick was all that excited about the color green. I’m pretty positive he wouldn’t pinch someone who wasn’t wearing green. I doubt he ever ate corned beef and cabbage. I’m not sure where those nutty traditions got started. They’re fun to do once a year but they have absolutely nothing to do with good ‘ol Patrick.

Yes he killed a few snakes as you have perhaps read, but that’s not what he was about. He was a champion of the underdog. He was all about liberating people who were stuck in sin, who were put down by an oppressive system. I relate to Patrick especially because he was someone who had been in slavery, he had gotten free, and now he was dedicated to liberating others from their captivity. Isn’t that what we are doing in evangelism? If we are up to anything it’s that we recognize in all humility that we are fairly messed up people who are in need of an intervention. We need saving. We don’t need a little bit of help or some reform. Like Patrick, if God doesn’t save us we will remain stuck in captivity. The good news it God has set us free just as he has done for Patrick.

Now that we are set free let’s do as Patrick—let’s make it our lifestyle that we will liberate others. For Patrick life took on greater momentum as he walked further on. The older he got the greater his impact. I believe God wills that sort of Umph for you and me as well. Let’s walk out our calling with zest, with passion and the enthusiasm of God himself. His provision rests upon us as we dedicate ourselves to losing our lives. We have nothing to lose other than our lives—and he will give us great joy in giving those up as well.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Snakes or no snakes, whether you are wearing green or not, it’s about setting people free. Let’s do it together! Thanks for being a part of the Servant Evangelism tribe.

Evangelism Key: Start the Conversation! by Rice Broocks

In my previous article “Evangelism is not just relationship” I submitted that we must not hesitate to share the Gospel even if we don’t have a relationship with the person. My hope is to get people talking about the Gospel. Yes, preaching the Gospel to those we come in contact with.

If we try to build a genuine relationship with someone and fail to mention our faith either one of two things is true. Either that relationship is not very deep or our faith isn’t .

Yet, great soul-winners are also relationally intelligent. They are good at starting conversations that eventually lead to God and the Gospel.  It is also critical to remember that evangelism involves listening, not just talking.

The principle I would like to introduce is called S.A.L.T.: Start a conversation, Ask questions, Listen, and then Tell the story.

In many cases, when looking for ways to engage unbelievers, it is critical to ask them questions and then genuinely listen before presenting the Gospel. The more you listen to others’ beliefs or lack thereof, the more they will listen when you tell the story of the Gospel and how it has impacted you.

As far as starting a conversation goes – I have never seen people more open to discussing God and spiritual things as they are now. Just remember to respect the person you are talking to by listening carefully to what they say. You’ll be amazed at how they return the favor.

We’ve developed a tool to help you engage those around you in this way. It’s called The God Test. For more information go to GodTest.Org or RiceBroocks.Com

Why Kindness? It’s Naturally Supernatural by Steve Sjogren

There is a lot of talk these days about the word “Kind.” There is so much chatter these days, in fact, one might even think kindness is a human attribute. Much like love. With both ideas / words, there are dymensions of the idea. With both, the concept has been so watered down, it is becoming difficult to nail down what is meant when people use the word in conversation.

As a word smith, I move we take the time to clarify this powerful word, AND we honor term that is of such enduring significance, it nearly belongs on the Periodic Chart of elements – on the bottom part of that chart if you are familiar with that from a chemistry class. That part of the chart deals with elements that endure for such long time frames we refer to them as having “Half Lives.” When humans touch such elements, there is no missing that one has been touched. Life will never be the same when anything with a half-life has touched our lives.  Such is the power of kindness.

Kindness is everlasting. It is! A touch of kindness goes on eternally. When one has experienced an act of kindness – you have been served or you have served others – that touch, that expression will echo all hearts involved for the rest of earthly life. How is this possible?  As Jesus said, “With man, this is cannot be done, but with God all things all things are possible.”  Kindness is from God. Human effort cannot produce kindness. True kindness never has originated from man apart from God and it never will. Only as God’s kindness flows through available people can anyone experience true kindness.

Kindness is Naturally Supernatural

What humans often confuse with with true kindness is actually ‘Niceness.’  Niceness is great. Hurrah for niceeness!  There are far worse things for one to be caught up with than niceness.  Make no mistake however – human niceness is utterly different than the kindness of God.

The Apostle Paul clarifies the untangled way of kindness in this verse:

“God’s kindness leads to a radical life change…” Romans 2:4, The Message Version

 “God’s kindness”

If you have lived more than a decade, you hopefully have discovered that those things that last originate from God. The temporal is apart from God’s eternal strength.

“Radical life change”

When God changes a life, that life changes for real and for the endurance.  That change occurs from the inside out. This is no self-imposed attempt at self-betterment. This is no resolution. This is no ‘I’ll never again’ try harder self-help. God has mercy on us by doing what we could not accomplish in a thousand lifetimes of a grand effort.

Kindness is contageous

The kindness of God Paul refers to flows from one human to another. God is by nature kind among other aspects of his diverse character.  The scriptures clarify when God changes a person’s life, a new normal way of living begins. Our bodies look the same, but spiritually we are transformed. We are converted. We are turned inside out. Entirely new ways of living and seeing occur. One of the primary overflows of that life is kindness. The kindness of God himself. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

God invites us to jump onboard!

Once we click into the kindness of God, at whatever point in our journey in life – time of following Jesus, it is as though blinders fall from our eyes.  In my life, though I had followed ‘Hard after God’ I had never picked up on the many verses that illustrate the concepts shared in this article alone. I hear this story each day several times via emails and texts – “I can’t believe I never got it before now! How could I have not seen those verses? I’m onboard now. I want to move forward – I want to serve, I want to live in the power of God’s kindness!”

There is a universal light bulb beginning to blink over hundreds of leaders worldwide. The conclusion being discovered is: “We need to show our culture the reality of God. Information without first providing credibility does not work.” This credibility building sequence is the way life has worked for all people of all time of all cultures. This simple request is reasonable. Jesus operated from this perspective.

Let’s begin to live from this new normal way of life as well!

5 Launching Lessons From Johnny Appleseed by Steve Sjogren

John Chapman, aka the legendary “Johnny Appleseed” was a missionary who reached out to native Americans in the Ohio Valley in the early 1800s.

He Had Simple Tools

His primary planting tool was a stick! Do you have a stick? When his current stick wore out he found a new stick. I heard recently through the grapevine that sticks are still easy to find!

The more elaborate we make our plans the more likely it is that we will fail.

He Heard the Invitation

He picked up on the invitation of the Father to accomplish his lifelong mission, therefore when the going got tough he was able to return to the beginning of it all to when God unmistakably spoke to him to go out in the first place.

He Didn’t Talk About Outreach, He Did Outreach

Johnny understood it’s about activism, not mere talk, nor continual preparation study, nor the accruing of more cool conference notebooks. He was all about taking risks and getting out there. If he were alive in 2012 his motto would be, “Missional schmissional! Stop the incessant talk, stop being a chicken and just do it for Pete’s sake!”

He Did Small Things

It doesn’t take much to change the world. A tiny apple seed grows into the largest fruit bearing tree in the plant world that will bear thousands of apples.

He Was Faithful

He was all in! He burned his bridges. There was no return.

He Saw Potential in the Faith Realm

Some would find it difficult, if not impossible, to do the ministry of Johnny because it was long-term and not immediately fulfilling. He was called by God to do something great but something that not would fully bear fruit in his lifetime.

Each seed was destined to produce an amazing tree that would produce thousands of apples to the glory of God. It takes the kind of faith only God can provide to live from that perspective. We can’t work that up. “God empower us the ability to hear your calling, regardless of the timing.”

With servant evangelism ministry the fruit takes a while to come about, but guaranteed, but when a church plant remains faithful to strongly serve and show generosity to their surrounding community, astounding results will come about.

Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, 
But only God can count the number of apples in a seed.

Robert H. Schuller

How To Flush Your Spiritual Pipes by Ken Glassmeyer

No matter how long I do outreach, I am often surprised at how much impact serving others actually has on our own spiritual health.  When we feed the poor, or do some small gesture of kindness, not only are we giving them a small taste of the kingdom, we get refreshed spiritually as well.  I have heard more than one pastor use the metaphor that we are a conduit or pipeline for God’s grace when we let Him flow through us to others.

Sometimes, when that grace sprays through us, it clean our pipes.

This fall, I had my hot water heater fail on me.  I live in an area that has extremely hard water, and frugal skeptic that I am, I have always resisted getting a water softener.  I am also not the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to home repair.  Little did I know that you are actually supposed drain and flush your hot water heater and lines at least once per year, because calcium, lime, and other minerals in hard water will calcify and gunk up your taps, fixtures pipes, and even the hot water heater itself.  In my case I went 15 years without ever having the heater serviced.  At first, I noticed white grit in the aerators and reduced flow from the tap.  Then a few weeks later every hot water line in the house slowed to a mere trickle. After a few thousand dollars and few days with a plumber, my lines were very clear, I had a new hot water heater, and a softener.  I had to help the plumber carry the old heater out of the house because it had over sixty pounds of sediment that had built up over the years.  All of this could have been avoided through the simple discipline of flushing my plumbing from time to time.

Can’t the same thing be said for making outreach a regular habit in our lives?

Maybe it goes back to the idea of a man with no shoes suddenly being very happy with his life when he meets a man with no feet.  When we serve people that are more impoverished than us, whether it be emotional, spiritual, or fiscal poverty, it helps put our life in perspective.  It flushes our spiritual pipes and gets the gunk out.

I had a similar experience with my personal ministry right around the same time the hot water heater went out.  Even though most folks assume I do outreach almost as often as I breathe, it does not really come natural to me.  If truth be told, I am not a very nice person.  I am actually kind of jerk.  In fact, that is proof that effective servant evangelism is absolutely dependent on God’s kindness–not my politeness.  Serving others does not come naturally to me.  It might look that way if you were elbow to elbow with me doing ministry, but you aren’t seeing me in my natural element.  You are seeing the power of God’s kindness transform me on the spot as it flows through me to those I am serving.

As such, sometimes I get in a funk.  Sometimes, I slack off with regard to ministry.  Weeks and months can slide by, and then I can spiral into a really funky spiritual place.  I was in such a place this fall.  I had a few serious set backs in my personal life, a few deaths and illnesses in the family, and a number of financial problems.  While I wasn’t shaking my fist at God, we weren’t exactly on the best speaking terms.  I certainly was in no mood to serve other people, much less be cordial toward them.

I am real big fan of Harry Chapin, and if you happen to have his Greatest Hits CD  around, put it in.  There is a little rant he goes on between two of his songs where he talks about the ludicrousness of churches and schools getting excited about feeding the poor around Thanksgiving:  “sure they eat good for one or two days off of your food drive, but what are they going to eat the rest of the year?”

I happened to be listening to it in the car and it occurred to me, that not only do the impoverished go hungry the rest of the year, some of us get spiritually lazy the rest of the year.  Before I heard the CD, I had not only skipped several planned church outreaches, I had even slowed down my personal servant evangelism.  I wasn’t “making my rounds” as Steve Sjogren often teaches:  simply follow your daily routine, but be attentive and ready to serve the people you meet as you run daily errands and go about your normal business.

My pipes were clogged.

I had actually even thought about skipping my church’s annual Turkeyfest, an event I helped start and refine over twenty-five years ago.

I was in a funk, and while I know and have often taught others that the best way to get out of a funk is to serve others.  I didn’t want to.  I conjured a hundred reasons not to join Turkeyfest.  Spiritual inertia had set in.

It was a very rough autumn.  My grandmother had just died just as I was finally really getting to know her and visit with her regularly.  Sadly, I’m still a bit unsure just where she landed on the Engle scale before dying.  I felt spiritually impotent.  Here I was, a type of outreach guru, and I couldn’t even witness effectively to my mostly unsaved family.  The rest of my family are pretty dang near the bottom of that same Engel scale.  They have a casual awareness that there is a God, but they aren’t Him.  It pretty much ends there with regards to faith with most of my family members.

Then my mom was attacked by the third type of cancer she has encountered in two decades:  breast cancer, skin cancer, and now finally fatal stage four renal cell carcinoma. She is way down in Florida and, living in Ohio, I can’t really see her as much as I would like to.   She has less than six months left.  There’s a bit more. . .I am sterile, yet changed that into a passion for being a teacher and I was pretty good at it and even won a few awards, but then I had a heart attack breaking up a fight at school and I was diagnosed with severe CHF and forced to retire early.

I spent a great amount of time in and out the hospital and have several pieces of my anatomy sliced, diced, and removed.  I tried to get healthier, but with a heart that works with less than 30% efficiency, my days in the classroom were over.

I threw myself into ministry becoming an outreach maniac and even became the editor of a national magazine dedicated to teaching folks around the world how to do two things:

  1. Notice the needs of people
  2. Help them notice God that is overjoyed to meet those needs for them

Sadly that groove only lasted a couple of years.  Due to medical pension stipulations, I had to resign.  In fact I had to curb all of my organized ministry endeavors for I am no longer able to lead or instruct others formally—even as a volunteer.  I now have to submit a report to the state board delineating my activities proving that I am not doing any form of leading others; I can’t even teach a Bible study or lead a small group. All this for the joy of collecting 21.25% of my final year’s salary—before taxes.

Then I found out I have a brain chemistry problem that the doctors still have not put their finger on.  I have become a test subject for pharmaceutical companies, only I am paying them, rather than them paying me as they try medication after medication to stabilize my brain chemistry.  Quite possibly it is never going to be fixed and could be a result of all the other medications I take for my Congestive Heart Failure; Hypertension and the fact that I no longer have part of my intestinal tract and stomach.

Some mornings I wake up and wonder why Job was being such a cry-baby.

In other words, I still love God because He is my Father, but lately I haven’t been in the mood to talk to him very much and being around people that are more “cheery” than me makes me even edgier than some of you have ever seen me, and if you thought me rude and brusque before, I am down right spiritually cantankerous at the moment. . .kinda like a crotchety Christian Dennis Miller who thinks he is funnier and smarter than he really is, and says everything he is thinking out loud.  So I began to stay away from gatherings so I am not toxic to others.

My spiritual pipes weren’t just clogged—they were backed up.

Anyway, I was almost in such a funk that I dang near took a pass on handing out turkeys this year, causing me to miss my first Turkeyfest. . .well since before we really didn’t have a name for it.  Back when we started it in the late 1980’s we just all pitched in out of our own pocket, loaded up a few pickup trucks with frozen turkeys, stuffing, canned goods, pumpkin pies and just doing the best a group of loving amateurs could do to hand out mercy and kindness from the back of a tailgate.

Twenty five years later and we were feeding over a thousand families each Thanksgiving—with a really nice spread.  I was going to bail on it.

Then two things changed my mind.

1) I heard a rumor that we might revisit the “old-school model” and have a bit more freedom to freelance/pray and stretch a few atrophied prophetic muscles and find random families to serve as the Lord led rather than use leads (with triplicate paperwork) from a social services agency making us little more than pizza delivery boys.  One time last year I was yelled at by the person I gave the turkey dinner to, that I bought out of my pocket, because I was ten minutes late arriving.

2) My youngest nephew, Adam, would be joining us for his first Turkeyfest. This precocious young man is the life of any party:  a kid that is two parts scoundrel and three parts saint.  You never know what is going to come out of his mouth, but more times than not it would be profound and sometimes even holy.

We reduced down, not going with a larger group this year; just our little extended family of me, my wife, and some of my inlaws.  They are Catholic, but let me tell you, that particular faith has forgotten more about service and kindness than any cutting edge parachurch you can name.  We bought two turkey dinners to give away.  The organizers at my church provided heavy-duty laundry baskets  (This is an awesome idea by the way—it holds a great deal of food and a full-sized turkey without breaking, and can be used to do laundry later!) and we just went to the store and filled it with a Thanksgiving bounty including a good sized bird.

The worship was awesome, but I had to chuckle when little Adam leaned into his mother’s shoulder and said:  “Uhhmm, mom, I think we went to the wrong place cause this sure ain’t no Catholic church.”

It was going to be a good day.

We drove through Lincoln Heights with our turkeys.  The landscape has sure changed since the days of the white bus and food runs I used to organize in this impoverished neighborhood when I was on staff over twenty years ago.  The entire place has been gentrified, but if you look close, you can still see the hidden poverty sprinkled around all the new condominiums city planners put in when the bulldozed the eight block grid housing project.  I almost go lost.

As we were driving down Chamberlain Ave. little Adam was inspired:  “Uncle Kenny, Instead of driving around all day and looking at houses, why don’t we just stop and ask that lady if she knows anybody that is hungry–she looks like she knows where we should go with the food.”

I look over and there is a single mom trying to load her car with a ton of laundry in plastic bags as she also herded two young kids. I hop out of the van and help her load her car introduce myself and ask her if she “knows of any families in the neighborhood going through a bad time that could maybe use an thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings?”

She stared and me blankly for a moment and started crying and pointed to the door of the house.  “I don’t live here–that’s my dad’s place,” is all she said, but kept crying.

I motioned to the van and we all carried the pies and stuffing and potatoes and turkey etc inside to meet Marcus and his grandson Javonian.

Marcus explained that his wife had just recently passed and he was trying to make things okay, but it was real rough on the family.  To make matters worse, the heater was out, his car was broke, and he was about to lose his job.  On top of all that, his wife had always put out a large spread for the family at Thanksgiving, but not only did he not have a clue how to cook, he didn’t have the money to afford such a spread

I started to show him that we had even gave him some basic cooking directions and showed him the cooking tips guide in the basket, but he stopped me.  He pointed out the window at his daughter, “She won’t come in here right now ’cause she’s mad at me and the rest of the world.  She can cook just like her ma could though, so we are good there. Don’t worry.  She’ll come around.  She just knows we’re about to do church in this living room, and that is probably more than she could bear right now.”

Adam frowned up at the man, “Why is she mad?”

“Well. . .” tears welled up in his eyes, but he laughed, “we were just arguing this morning about what to do about Thanksgiving this year, and I told her I would pray and God would provide–then you all showed up a few minutes later. She ain’t really mad-mad, she just knows it is time to get right with God again, you know?  You folks showing up is just God messing around with her–and some folks don’t think God has a great sense of humor,”  Marcus smiled down at Adam as he wiped a tear from his face.  “Little man, you and your kin are an answer to prayers this morning,” and with that Marcus grabbed all our hands and we did church in his living room.

We prayed for Marcus and his grandson while his daughter lingered and watched with curiosity from the porch.  Then Adam tugged on my jeans:  “Aren’t you going to pray for his heater?”

I picked up the broken thermostat in my hand and Adam covered it with his and we prayed that God would “send a friend over that could help him hook it back up right.”  The phone rang just as we were leaving.  It was a friend of Marcus calling to see what would be a good time to come over and rewire the thermostat that had been lying on the floor.

My pipes are clean now.

Plan Now For Valentine’s Day Kindness Outreaches! by Janie Sjogren

“Did you get your Valentine today?“ It’s easy to put a Valentine’s Day outreach together in a short time.  People are really open this time of year, and everyone loves getting a little love shown to them!

Roses are a great idea, wrapped with baby’s breath and some florist paper from your local florist.  Order the parts and have your team wrap everything up.  Wrap up each red rose individually.  Wrap with baby’s breath, red florist paper and clear plastic sheets, then tie a ribbon with an outreach card to it.  Roses are great to give out on street corners, and people are surprised it is free.  Some churches use a “$1 Roses” sign and then give the rose and the dollar to people!  Red carnations also work well for this project.

Chocolates are a great gift of love this time of year.  Put Hershey kisses or other wrapped candies into small clear bags tied with ribbon and a card stating that “This is a little way to let you know God loves you, no strings attached!”  Gifts of candies to workers at stores are often well received, as well as showing love at nursing and care homes.  Buy 3” X 5” zip-closure bags online.

Set the date and time!  Get your team together, plan what you’ll give out and set the date for your Valentine’s Day outreach.  Make sure you have all the items to assemble before the outreach.

If you pack them, your people will give them away!  Another great way to get the sweets out to people is to send your Sunday attendees out the door with 5 or 10 sets of candies with cards attached ready to give away.

People need to know they are loved, and this is an easy way to do it!

For connect cards and zip-closure bags, check out KindnessResources.com.

Celebrating My Greatest Mistakes Of 2011 by Steve Sjogren

At the end of the year some time ago I gave a message on a few year-end reflections I had cloaked around “My Biggest Mistakes of the Year.” To my surprise more listened to that message than any in the previous year. The following year I did the same with fresh, new mistakes. Again, there was an enthusiastic response. I continue to make this a year-end message, but I am now doing an enhanced version online for some of my sites – thus what you are now reading.

On the surface of things, it may seem a little dark to ponder one’s mistakes, but I don’t see it that way, and neither does God. In the Bible, God consistently choose people who were prone to make mistakes yet went on to be stellar examples of lives strongly lived.

Peter, for one, was a mistake maker who went on to great things. His mistakes didn’t impair him from greatness. He took risks that often led to failure but always left a deposit of faith in him. He was able to walk on water when the others were afraid to step out of the security of the boat. He failed after a step or two, but he received an amazing installation of faith just the same.

What you read here are my confessions from this past year. Each of them is an area where I blew it but then made a mid-course correction along the way.

Click here or on the above image to download the PDF.

Steve Sjogren Interviewed by Rice Broocks on TBN

Steve Sjogren recently did a great interview with Rice Broocks about Servant Evangelism on the TBN network. You might find this helpful to forward to others as a way of explaining the concept of SE in a nutshell. (Interesting note: It was taped in Nashville at what was previously the estate of country music legend Conway Twitty on his sound stage, known as “TwittyLand!” – not as over the top as the name sounds but a cool bit of Nashville lore. If you are ever in Nashville-Hendersonville on a Tuesday night, you might want to check out the taping of one of these shows.)

I Heart My City by Dino Rizzo

Did you know Jesus has a plan for you in the city He has sent you to?  We see a great example of this in Luke 8:26-38.  This once demon-possessed man is ready to follow Jesus after this miraculous life change.  But Jesus commands him to, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”  Go back to the city I have called you to.  Go back to your home.  Go to your city.  Go to your people.  Jesus was smart.  He knew this city would know this once demon-possessed man.  They would recognize something had changed in him.  Something miraculous had to have happened to make this once crazy man, sane again.  Here we have the first missionary sent to his own zip code.  God has a plan for you in the city He has sent you to as well.

If you want to make a difference in your city you must first love your city.  Loving your city opens ears to hear the gospel, unlocks heart to be loved, and unleashes Kingdom influence.  You can’t fake love.  You can’t love behind your church walls.  You can’t love behind judgment.  You can only “speak” love so much before you have to “show” it in order for others to believe it.  Opening up your heart, your arms, your finances, your resources, your building to others with a ridiculous love for the people in your city will catapult you into God’s purposes like nothing else.

Loving your city starts with knowing your city.  You have to notice, understand, listen, and pay attention to the culture, the rhythms, the condition, the seasons, and the story of your city.  Being with the people will create a love for the people.   Simply researching your city, only creates a data connection.  What you need is a heart connection with the people in your city.  Jesus was always among the people.  He bridged the gap between physical need and spiritual need, because He could see what type of bridge needed to be built to connect with them.  Knowing your city will help you determine how to truly love your city, minister to your city, and provide for your city.

Once you know your city, you act.  Do whatever you can to meet the needs of your city. Know the need, see what you have to offer, and act.  Not too long ago we noticed that cancer patients receiving chemotherapy in local hospitals were not receiving the nutritional snacks they really needed.  A lady in our church started with 5 volunteers and went once a week to bring a healthy snack to a cancer patient.  One year later we are in 5 hospitals, 5 days a weeks, and have served thousands of snacks.  We have been able to share the love of Christ with thousands through a simple healthy snack.

When you know your city and act on the true needs within the city, there will be impact.  Know, act, and impact will follow.  You will be blown away by the access, opportunity, influence, and visibility that opens wider than you imagined possible.  The government starts calling you to solve problems in the city.  They know your name.  Road blocks and red tape are no longer blockades to ministry.  Door after door begins to open.  You set the example for others.  People start thinking, “Maybe the church does know how to solve some of these issues in our community for the cause of Christ.”  You are advertising without even having to advertise because serving creates chatter.  Let’s create lots of chatter!

You want people pulling up on your property saying, “I heard from someone that this church would help me.”  Be necessary.  Be seen as a solution.  Is your church necessary to your city?  Does it matter that you are here?  As churches we often ask ourselves if the poor matter to us, but the real question is, “Do we matter to the poor?”  Does your city need you?  I believe they do because they need Christ.  Let us be found faithful with the piece of earth God destined for us to serve on.  Love your city.