Mother’s Day Carnation Giveaway by Janie Sjogren

mothersdaySome people forget or wait until the last moment to get Mom a flower or card. Flowers can be expensive when purchased at the store individually, but they can be purchased for less than fifty cents per flower in bulk. Your group can probably explain to a local supermarket florist what you are trying to do with your outreach. Given enough advance notice, he or she can order a quantity of carnations and pass the discounted price on to you.

Attach to each flower an outreach connect card and a ribbon. As with a soft-drink or water giveaway, if your’e doing this at a grocery store (where we usually locate), situate yourself by the entrance, not the exit. You’ll want 5+ people per team.

Another version of this is the Secretaries Day or Sweetest Day flower giveaway with a blank card for the giver to write his or her sentients on as a greeting.

Of course, don’t give away flowers near a flower vendor.

Where To Go:

  • Campuses
  • Parks
  • Neighborhoods
  • Sporting Events
  • Downtown
  • Commuters
  • Shopping Centers

What You’ll Need

  • Carnations
  • Ribbons
  • Outreach Connect Cards like those below

 Mother's Day Connect Card

 Mother's Day Connect Card

 Mother's Day Connect Card

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.

3 Great Outreach Projects For Spring by Janie Sjogren

Spring is here and this season is a great opportunity to reach out to your community and show them God’s love in practical ways.

Here are three great outreach projects that are perfect for spring:

1. Free Car Wash

This is an effective, practical service. We offer a car wash every week in the summer. Have a professionally made banner or sign that says “Totally Free Car Wash!” or “Free – No Kidding – Car Wash!” Have a few people who are not shy, cheerfully yell at cars driving by – “Free Car Wash!” Former cheerleaders are great for this role! This outreach needs a good project manager to organize volunteers, car flow and ensure a quality job.

Purchase high quality car wash soap and do a thorough job – scrub the tires and dry the car. Your hard work will speak volumes about God’s love!

Materials:

  • Connection Cards
  • Free Car Wash Signs
  • Hoses and nozzles
  • Water Source (important!)
  • Buckets
  • Car Wash Soap
  • Squeegee
  • Tire brushes
  • Towels/Chamois Cloth

Team Size: 8+

Outreach Cost: Inexpensive

Child-friendly: Yes, it’s great fun for kids, but they must be well supervised

 

2. General Yard Cleanup

After the winter weather is over, all sorts of debris become obvious. Go door to door with gloves, rakes, and trash bags.

Materials:

Team Size: 2+

Outreach Cost: Free / inexpensive

Child-friendly: No

 

3. Bottled Water Giveaway

Many people prefer water to soft drinks. Ice down bottles of water in Igloo coolers for an alternative to Coke giveaways. Use the same drink connection cards. We don’t recommend combining this with a soda giveaway because it offers too many options and gets complicated. You can do this anywhere there are a lot of people gathered.

Materials:

Team Size: 3+

Outreach Cost: Moderate

Child-friendly: No

 

Don’t forget to give out outreach connect cards during your spring outreaches. If you need high-quality outreach cards, you can click on any of the links above to see the great selection of designs we offer, or simply go to this link below:

http://www.kindnessresources.com/Outreach-Cards-C10.aspx

Keep walking in the outflow!

Excellent Mistake – Doing Outreach Alone by Steve Sjogren

mistake(From time to time in Serve I am going to post Excellent Mistakes I have made in outreach over the years. These are “excellent” mistakes because I have learned from them and our typical step of progression is “Two steps forward, one step backward.” Thus, we are making progress in dropping the ball!) Of course we are able to do outreach on our own. We ought to be willing to do significant acts of outreach apart from our need for a team. There is plenty we can do that is accomplished just by ourselves. However in the long run that policy is going to lead to burnout. We will quit if we seek to be a one-person outreach team. We just aren’t wired to do this stuff apart from connecting with others who are similarly wired to us, with both our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Fire left alone has a tendency to go out rather quickly. This is just as true in the spiritual world as it is in a physical realm. We need others who are going the same direction as us in outreach. It is vital that we team up with others who have a similar heart. You can’t go it alone in outreach. You need at least a couple of others to team up with you in order to do this for the long haul. The question is How can we move forward to make it for the distance? How can we proceed in a way that is going to endure? Sprinting down the path for a short bit is simple enough. Many can do that. To make it for a marathon distance takes some careful strategy. Jesus calls us to give our entire lives to his cause, for the rest of our lives. This is a matter of the lordship of Jesus.

Pray. Ask God to supply a sidekick or two. Jesus said, “The fields are white unto harvest. …Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers.” The beginning point is simply to ask God to show up. Jesus also said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name there am I in their midst.” There is something unfathomably powerful about having our focus on the Lord Jesus. He delights in showing up in our midst when we aim at lifting him up. “If you agree on anything…I will do it.” Amazing power is unleashed when we pray.

Look. Don’t forget to look for the supply of God. He might be in your midst right now doing something great even as you complain and are depressed. A key to progress is having the wherewithal to notice the move of God in both the obvious and the obscure. Pray for truth-tellers to come alongside you to speak words of obviousness to you. Sometimes childlike people will come as a gift to you with the ability to speak plain truth to you. Receive such people with enthusiasm. Take their words to heart.

Start. In the film Forest Gump, Forest begins to jog full-time for reasons not even he understands. He just feels it is important to go for a run, a long run! He runs across the entire United States. When he arrives at one coast he decides to run back the opposite direction again. He doesn’t stop this routine for several years. Forest runs alone for a while, but people start to hear about his run and believe there is something innately spiritual about his trek and slowly other joggers join him. Before long a cadre of fellow runners surround him wherever he runs.
Outreach (and much of leadership!) follows this pattern. Momentum begets momentum. We may not fully understand what we are doing. That’s just fine. Don’t wait until that ethereal point happens. It never will! Just start. Momentum is what life is all about. Without momentum you are either dead or quickly on your way to being dead. Progress happens as you proceed in a willingness to take a stab at the future. Ready, FIRE, Aim.

That’s your mantra from now forward.We need one another in order to do outreach for the long haul. God is going to provide our coworkers. Look for them, but thank him in advance for the amazing team he is sending.

Wrestling With Murphy In Outreach By Jon Allis

I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Sjogren at a conference he sponsored at the Kings Island Inn in 1989.  I should have known something was up when I lost one of my 2 front teeth setting up the sound equipment (a story for another time, but feel free to insert your favorite hillbilly joke here. That began a decade’s long friendship. The coffee we shared spurred great conversations and stories from Steve.  His passion helped me both recognize where God had already been developing a servant’s heart in me and inspired me to begin intentionally leading others to love those around us.  Here is one of the lessons I have learned that keeps me in the game 25 years later.

This was something I first heard from Steve, but it has played out in one way or another in every project I have participated in. “When you move into servant evangelism you will bump into Murphy’s Law…no, you will move into Murphy’s country!”

It seems that loving your neighbor as yourself is actually difficult – that all that can go wrong tends to go wrong. It’s weird – it didn’t seem so hard when Jesus talked about loving our neighbors.

I actually thought I was getting off easy! Every time we choose to trust Jesus and operate in the gift of the Spirit, LOVE (yes singular, because absolutely every follower of Jesus gets this one!) the Enemy is right there to make sure we don’t like it. If we did like it, we might recognize God’s power is revealed in love, and we might start to share it like it made a difference and actually change the world.  To prevent this, our enemy makes sure that Murphy’s Law is powerfully at work through various circumstances, ordinances, personalities and attitudes from the get go so we are frustrated from the get go.

Murphy showed up at the very first outreach I did with Steve at the Cincinnati Vineyard.  They were hosting a free carwash (that actually was free—back in the day when that was novel) at Jenny’s Sports Bar on Route 42.  I jumped in with both feet and started working hard.  I got hot enough that spring day to shed my t-shirt (not nearly as terrifying an image 25 years ago) as I pressed into washing fenders, hoods and bumpers.  As we began to clean up I started looking for my white t-shirt, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I finally wandered over to the rag pile and there it was.  Someone had used it to polish brake dust from at least a dozen rims.  I wrung it out and considered this reward for my labor.  Later though 2 stories circulated that made me realize that I would gladly give my shirt every time we served to see God’s love revealed like that.

That experience helped me realize that to deal with Mr. Murphy and not give up we must be both hard and soft. We must be hard to keep serving for the long haul. Hard to the outreach realities of circumstances, ordinances, personalities and attitudes that Murphy employs. Dealing with Murphy requires that we develop a callous over the part of our heart that wants to be right, wants to be in control, wants to look good and most of all be successful. The bad news is that callous is developed the way all good callouses are – through repeatedly being pressed down, pushed on, rubbed and scraped. In a deep sense we need to become hard to the awkward feelings of being foolish, unappreciated and embarrassed. I believe this sacrifice is a pleasing fragrance to our God.  If we can grow hard, develop this ability to embrace Murphy, we can enjoy a long season of loving our community into relationship with Jesus.

We must also stay soft. Soft to the voices of those we are serving and those we are serving with.  The breath of fresh air for me in this discipline of reaching out in service is the stories that capture a moment in the transformation process.  Make time to listen every time you are serving. Whether it is a debrief over food after an event with your co-laborers or stopping your “kindness” to listen to one of the people you are working so hard to reach.  Their stories are the catalog of the Holy Spirit’s work in and through you, in a tangible way, the very coming of His kingdom. Don’t be distracted by your work and miss this sweet fruit.  As these stories are shared, they create energy for us to continue to reach out.

Love Strong.

4 Warm Weather Outreach Ideas by Janie Sjogren

It’s getting warmer and this changes what we can do to show love to our communities.  Take a look at your supply closet, and do some spring-cleaning to freshen everything up.  The typical toilet-cleaning kits and windshield washing supplies are a start, but add some more spark to your outreaches with a good variety of options at the ready. Here are four outreach ideas for warmer weather.

Put A Twist On The Typical Car Wash – Make It a $1 Car Wash

Get big banners that read, “Free Car Wash—No Kidding!” or “$1 Car Wash!”  In the $1 Car Wash version, you give the person $1 after washing their car, with a connect card explaining why you are doing this, “This is a simple way to say God loves you, no strings attached!”

Set up on a street that has significant traffic flow, with water access and an easy entrance and exit. Use soccer cones to direct traffic where you want it.  Create an inviting sitting area with soccer chairs and iced down drinks in a cooler.

Place several high-energy, cheerleader types on corners near your site.  Tell them to shake their signs, wave their hands and generally direct people into the car wash.

Make sure to have friendly people to greet the drivers, and to talk to people.  Don’t get so busy washing that you forget to pass out a card and an explanation that you are doing this as a community service project to show them a little of God’s love.

Put Your Coolers To Work!

Rolling coolers are great for water and pop outreaches.  If your church can afford one, get a large Ice Maker to always have ice at the ready.  Coolers also work well to transport hot dogs and hamburgers wrapped in fast-food foil wrappers.  The cooler acts like a steamer, and the goods arrive warm.   Offer with individually wrapped condiments, and deliver around 11am while people are still hungry.

Ice Cream Coupon Give-Away

Ice cream is a happy food!  Buy a quantity of ice cream coupons at a discount.  Connect with your local ice cream shop, or with McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A.  Explain that you are doing, a community service project, and that you plan on giving the ice cream coupons away.

Places to go include campuses, parks, neighborhoods, sporting events, and skate parks.  Give out a Connection Card with each Ice Cream Coupon.

Festival Survival Packs

Where food and drink are being sold as part of a community event, don’t be rude and give away drinks or food.  Instead, make up little packs of items in a small zip-lock bag.

Items could include:  Towelettes for cleaning sticky fingers, small samples of lotion or suntan cream, a peppermint hard candy to freshen breath, tissues, golf pencils and small pads of post-its or pads made from clean-cut scrap paper.

Don’t forget to give out outreach connect cards during your spring outreaches. If you need high-quality outreach cards, you can click on any of the links above to see the great selection of designs we offer, or simply go to this link below:

http://www.kindnessresources.com/Outreach-Cards-C10.aspx

4 Lessons Kindness Outreach Teaches You…But Seminary Doesn’t by Samuel Aldridge

As a full time MDiv student I spend much of my time hidden behind my laptop and a pile of books and journal articles.  I debate and defend theology with other students, wrestle with Greek and Hebrew, and receive instruction on topics from church administration through to effective communication techniques; I even have classes specifically devoted to my spiritual formation.  But even with such a holistic theological education I have found there are many things that just cannot be learnt about the Christian life from the seminary classroom, or the church sanctuary.  Some of these lessons are assumed, and others are overlooked, whilst with some the theory is mentioned, but the lesson never truly learnt or understood.  To learn these lessons we have to go somewhere else.

For me that somewhere else has become the streets of my local town doing Kindness Outreaches.  I have to admit that this was never something I started off doing with the aim of educating myself, it was all about the people I was serving, and it still is, but no matter how much I think I know, I always seem to learn something new every time I go out onto the streets to serve.  So without much more ado, here are some things that Servant Evangelism has taught me…and seminary hasn’t.

1. People long to be loved

I have lost count now of the number of people that I have gone up to during Kindness Outreaches and the response has been either dumbstruck faces or tears.  Smiles are certainly the most common response I have had though.  One time I was out doing a Kindness Outreach with my wife, giving away popcorn to people at work.  She wandered into one of the businesses and on this occasion I hung around just outside the store looking through the glass store front (I think that this was only my second time doing Kindness Outreach and I was still terrified back then).  As my wife walked out of the store, having given away the popcorn, the single employee, who had been sat looking very bored and lonely in an empty shop, had a huge smile across her face.   I think that we had just made her day.

This may seem like something that should be so fundamentally understood by Christians: that our love is not just needed, but also wanted.  All too often, though, I think that we assume this is so fundamental to how the Christian should think that we overlook it.  During my time at seminary I have been a part of several discussions that have looked at church growth, development and issues surrounding the supposed “consumer congregation,” but within these talks it seems that the idea of a church growing by actively going out and loving its local community is often overlooked, apparently we just don’t seem to think that love is what the “consumer congregation” wants.  But Kindness Outreach has taught me that love is exactly what people want.

2. Community is alive and well

Once, back in October, a few of us took a truck filled with pumpkins around some of the apartment blocks in my town.  We pulled up to the first block of apartments and started talking to a group of teens stood in the parking lot, they we’re eager to take some pumpkins.  Then a remarkable thing happened: children started pouring out of the woodwork from all over the estate and formed quite a crowd around the truck as we handed out the pumpkins.  Within a few moments the truck went from bursting full to half empty.  We had managed to serve an entire complex and knocked on a total of one door. Instead the community had done the work for us, the children had been running from apartment to apartment, telling all their friends and family about the people giving away free pumpkins, and as more people found out they in turn told more people until the whole complex was aware of our presence.

I see this sort of community spirit a lot whilst I am out serving the community, perhaps most often when I am around giving out bags of food to those who need it.  As I start talking to people I often ask if they know anyone else who is in need of some free food, and whilst sometimes the person shrugs their shoulders, more often than not the person steps out of the doorway and starts pointing to other houses in the street.

3. We are part of a single catholic church

When I was out serving with free bags of food the other day something happened that I did not expect.  I was in a rundown trailer park and knocked on the door of one of the trailers, holding my breath that the fragile construction would not collapse as I knocked.  A little old lady answered the door, her arms filled with food.  She had seen what we were doing and wanted to be a part of it and so stuffed a ton more food into the bags that we were carrying.  This little, old lady was not part of our church, or even our denomination, but as we explained to her what we were doing she was still excited to help out.  In that moment our slightly different takes on theology were irrelevant, for the both of us our theology did not need to go any further than “We love because God first loved us.”

People from all sorts of backgrounds and denominations go out to do Servant Evangelism: Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and many others.  We have all at times debated and fought over our theologies, and being at a multi-denominational seminary I sometimes find myself focusing more upon how we differ than how we are alike.  But when I am on that doorstep doing Kindness Outreach, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if my companion for the day was from a different denomination, for at that moment we need to go no further than “We love because God first loved us.”  And surely we, as the church, can at least agree on that much.

4. And finally…

Perhaps the most important lesson that I have learnt from doing Kindness Outreach, however, is one that arises out of all my outreach experiences.  It arises out of the fact that people need to be loved, it arises out of the fact that community is still important, it arises out of the church being able to stand as a unified whole, and it arises from every door that I have stepped up to and God has used me to make a positive difference in somebody’s life: that there is hope for the church today.  Kindness Outreach has shown me that there is a way for us to effectively shine Christ’s light to the world and, that through us Christ can impact the lives of countless people.  All that needs to be done is for us to get out there and serve.

When Servant Evangelism Becomes Routine by Marty Boller

outreachI’m not sure when the term ‘servant evangelism’ first came into play. In the early days of the Vineyard movement, Steve Sjogren was the first voice I heard talking about focusing an entire church community around the idea of serving outsiders through practical, applicable acts of kindness. My Vineyard church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa has been actively involved with servant evangelism for much of our thirteen years of our existence. In 1998, when we started our church, it was common for our small church planting team to be involved in SE events nearly every weekend.

We did free car washes, free water bottle giveaways, free neighborhood leaf-raking, free carnations to moms on Mother’s Day, free snow shoveling, etc. etc. It was common back then that when a new person started coming to our church, we knew they were staying when we saw them at our next giveaway! And while I can’t deny that we did these servant evangelism events in our earliest days because we were trying to plant a new church, over time I believe some of us actually caught the SE bug and decided it was a good thing to do even when it wasn’t all about building a new church. In truth, as I see it, servant evangelism should never be about planting or building a church, but about simply loving people we don’t know. And as Steve Sjogren has so often taught us over the years, words just can’t express how thrilling it is to give something away with no strings attached.

But isn’t it interesting that over time, we Christians can take something that is at its’ core something new and fresh and make it into a routine, or worse yet, a church project? And so it becomes with many churches as we grow and get into facilities of our own. As I look back, I see how my church went from having a ‘freely-received-freely-given’ attitude about servant evangelism to a programming mode that can make SE all about growing our church and measuring for results. Sadly, as we grow larger, the concept of random acts of kindness tend to evolve into highly-developed, well-planned-out programs of servant evangelism. And somehow, someway, the true joy of doing SE for the right reasons is nearly lost.

Today, as I write these words, I’m praying about what it might take in our well-established church to once again return to the carefree, light-hearted spontaneous SE giveaways we once enjoyed when we were smaller. I’m guessing there might be other pastors out there who share that same dream. In recent weeks, I’ve been blogging about what type of changes might need to happen in my thirteen-year-old church in order to get back to the joys of doing simple Kingdom outreach ministry just because Jesus loves it that way. Join me at my blog and chime in on some of your ideas as well. Together with God’s help, I believe we might just see a fresh wave of SE, for His Name’s sake!

Listen To God… Really? by Jason Taylor

It seemed I had tried it all!  From dropping thousands of eggs from a helicopter to sending out what seemed like millions of postcards, but our church was not getting the “results” that everyone else had gotten.  I hired coaches and mentors who told me “how” to plant the church.  I did everything by the book, but the results were minimal in comparison to what everyone else was “getting”.  Was there something wrong with me?  Was I really called?  Is this really what God wanted me to do, start a church from scratch?

I still remember the day that I just came to a realization that I needed to stop listening to coaches, books, and blogs first and start listening to what God was saying through the Holy Spirit for our church in our town.  That’s when everything changed!  I remember praying and asking God, “What’s next?”  As I stopped and listened, He spoke and we started becoming who God wanted us to be as a church in our town.

For example, God said…

  • Move your location 9 miles across town to another school, when you do not have the money to do so- we did, and we started growing and God provided!
  • Set a goal to touch 5,000 people with random acts of Kindness in six months, when we had no dollars for this outreach- we did, and people’s lives were changed forever and God provided!
  • Move again to another location that you cannot afford- we did, and God provided and since that time over 260 people have given their lives to Jesus in our services!

My point is this:  There is nothing wrong with coaching, mentors, and blogs, but please LISTEN TO GOD FIRST, and God will use the other voices to implement the vision that He gives you.

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