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!

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.

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.

Having A Heart For The Poor Means Having A Heart For God by Martin Buehlmann

Not that long ago my wife and I were sitting in our kitchen, preparing a nice family dinner. Suddenly our doorbell rang. Going to the door we saw Ghebremariam, a 38 year old woman from Eritrea who works for Mariam. Ghebremariam is a refugee from Eritrea, a neighboring country to Ethiopia. She had to leave three children behind and has now been in Europe for four years.

We have known Ghebremariam for quite a while, since Christmas when she came to our home for a party for the lonely and enjoyed it immensely. As she sat with us in the kitchen, she began to share more of her heartbreaking story. When she came to Europe four years ago she hoped to find a place of peace, a home, a hiding place from all the abuses, all the arbitrariness and unrighteousness she had to live under. But now, as she was sharing her story, crying aloud, she told us she was just refused as a refugee, being left without any rights and without support. Our dinner changed from a leisure time to a wonderful expression of care, love, acceptance. We listened, cried with her, hugged her, prayed for her and finally blessed her with some money. After two hours her countenance lifted and she smiled slightly. When she left we knew that we had expressed the kindness of Jesus to this dear woman.

Suddenly it dawned on me. It is Good Friday and Jesus has visited our home. We were able to console Him, for Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25, that whatever we have done to one of the least, we have done to Him.

Serving others means meeting Jesus in the lives of others, sharing their pain and helplessness. As we are faithfully doing this as an expression of our lifestyle, it becomes a continuous prayer and invitation for Christ to come.

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

Lessons from Stubby The Cat…nudging others to Christ by Austin Cooper

I have to admit that I used to hate cats. I never understood why someone would want an animal that hides 20 hours of the day and hisses at you the other 4 hours when it decides to grace you with its presence. I see all the “cute” kitten pictures girls post on Facebook and all I can think is “You need a dog in your life.” Strangely enough though, my perceptions of cats have taken a complete 180 turn in the past several months due to a stray cat named Stubby that visits our house from time to time. Stubby has not only done well for his entire species, but he has highlighted a great truth that too many of us as Christians forget: Genuine small acts of love push people toward Christ no matter how far away they are from His Grace.

Stubby started coming to our doorstep early this winter and I wanted nothing to do with him. My wife and I would sometimes put out some scrap food for Stubby. He would eat it and then go his way. I liked his lack of neediness but one night it got down to 20 degrees outside so I agreed to let him in for about an hour, but no longer. While he was in our house he was playful, well behaved, clean, and actually showed his love toward us with many small gestures. After his hour was up I kicked him outside with some warm towels that he could shelter under. A week later cold weather returned and Stubby was at our door waiting for us when we got home. This time I agreed to let Stubby stay the entire night. At about 3 am I woke up to a shifting of weight at the foot of our bed. Stubby had cuddled up and was purring more than any cat I ever heard before. All of my instincts told me “KICK HIM OFF”, but I decided to let him stay. Time and time again this has happened and now when we come home Stubby is usually waiting for us doing backflips for us to come in. I have bought him play toys, I let him stay whenever he wants, he has met all of my friends, I have bought him Meow Mix, and yes I let him sleep in our bed whenever he wants. I am officially still a dog man, but little experiences over time with Stubby has me rethinking how I view cats because now I can truly say I love Stubby and look forward to seeing him every day. At first I didn’t understand what was happening, but now I see it clearly. Stubby was working a plan. Bit by bit, Stubby was nudging me toward a relationship with him.

This experience teaches a great lesson about how we as Christians need to reach out to the Lost.

There are many people in this world who are not yet ready to accept Christ. They are “Not-Yet Believers.” They are open to a gesture of kindness and love that can nudge them closer to being ready to accept Christ. Recently, I’ve heard pastors use the analogy of golfers on a golf course to represent those who are on a journey toward coming to Christ at various points of readiness to accept Christ. Some golfers are right on the green and ready to putt their ball into the hole (accept Christ), while others are so far away from the hole it wouldn’t work all that well for a putter to move them. For the person that is far away from the hole, a simple act of love can be used to get them closer to the hole where the golfer can use a putter to nudge them into the hole (to accept Christ) so that progress will take place. Progress takes place all along the golf match no matter which club is used. The lesson learned is this – use the appropriate club depending on where the ball lies, not on your affinity for a particular club. Learn to use a number of clubs!

Too many times in evangelism we focus on the end result and we want to rush people there without taking the time to show them who God is through small acts of genuine love. There are many people who are so distant from accepting Christ, that a push in His direction with a practical service may be all that God asks at that moment. I like to think that our small obedient acts of love give the lost a first impression of who God really is, and how much He loves them. If I think about my relationship with Stubby, he did not come in and demand that he sleep on my bed and eat my food right away. I would have promptly kicked him off my property. However, little genuine acts of love over time gave me a first impression of cats and brought me to the point where I was ready to dive in to whatever Stubby wanted. When we grasp the truth that God uses even our small acts of love to draw the Lost to Himself, it inspires us to live a life that is bursting out with the love and kindness God has shown us. Every small act of our life becomes meaningful simply because a small act of love shown to an Unbeliever could be all God needs to draw them to a better understanding of who He is, which in effect draws them closer to accepting Jesus’ love.

Our church has recently caught fire on giving people within our community a first impression of who God is. As we focus on giving the Lost a little nudge closer to Jesus we like to perform small acts of kindness such as passing out free water on a hot day, passing out free candy, doing free car washes, raking leafs for free, or any free service that aims just to show people that God loves them in a practical way with no strings attached. The people we are serving often say, “I have never felt so loved by a Christian” or “I have never heard of a church doing something like this just to tell me God loves me”. Over time we have seen the fruit of nudging people towards Christ through small acts of love.

If Stubby can use small genuine acts of love to bring me to a place where I admit that I love cats, how much more can God use our small, genuine acts of love overtime to bring an Unbeliever to a place where they accept Him.

Hang in there as the ball moves closer to the hole. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will inspire you to have patience.