Serving Together = Growing Together by Austin Cooper

“Enjoyed spending my morning with the kids and my church family doing a Winter Survival kit outreach!! It’s an awesome experience and I am so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to teach my kids how to show Gods love in simple, practical ways.”

“I am blown away by God’s mercy, just to be a part of His work…it’s amazing!!! Today we got the opportunity to drive a little boy and his sister, whom we met on an outreach, to church and he said are you taking us to Jesus’ house??? He was SO excited! What a blessing to be able to be used by God to draw people into Himself…we are SO unworthy!!! It BLOWS my mind.”

These quotes are real Facebook posts from two different people in our church that have occurred in the past month. As a culture of Servant Evangelism is enveloping our church there seems to be a two part blessing that has occurred from our church developing an outward focus: a blessing for us as a church and a blessing for the people we are reaching by showing them God’s love in simple and practical ways. Nothing highlights these two blessings better than the two Facebook posts above.

In August of 2010 our church started participating in Servant Evangelism. As a church we did a kindness outreach on a Saturday from 10am-noon once a month in which we served people in very simple and practical ways such as $1 car washes (wash a car and give away the dollar), leaf raking, toilet cleaning, soda and water giveaways, washing windows, etc. When we were asked by the people we were serving why we were doing this we would just respond, “We wanted to show you that Jesus loves and cares for you in a practical way.” Furthermore, we passed out a card with a big smiley face on the front that says: “We hope this small gift brightens your day, there are no strings attached. We just want to let you know God loves you.” We had so much fun we decided in January of 2011 to start doing the kindness outreaches twice a month. Finally in June of 2011 we decided to completely dive in and start doing a kindness outreach every single week whether we have 1 person show up or 20 (trust me there has been plenty of weeks where we have had only 1 person show up to an outreach, but God still uses it) and we have seen the outpour of blessings that God has put upon our church, both from the inside and the out.

From the very beginning of our outreach efforts it became apparent that God was using this outward focus to bless and bring our church together. Whenever we step out and look to further God’s kingdom there is a great deal of joy involved. I have never felt or seen strangers within a church grow to become a loving family quicker than when we are serving others in fun and practical ways. When we set out on our outreaches whether it be simply giving away soda or putting on a block party there is an overwhelming sense that God’s Spirit is going before us and just as in Acts 13:52 which says, ““And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” there is a great deal of fun, bonding, and joy involved. We have all heard the phrase: “A family that prays together stays together” well I like to say “A church that serves together grows together.” This growth means takes place both physically and spiritually. The two Facebook posts at the top of the page illuminate this truth greatly. God blesses us in the greatest way possible when we bless others.

Of course our ultimate goal in reaching out to others in our community is to allow God to use us to bring those who he chooses to a place where he can draw them to Himself. When we pass out sodas, or chap stick, or whatever it may be we always pray that God’s spirit will use such a simple, material thing to change someone’s heart towards him. I like to think that through Servant Evangelism and a simple offer of a 10 second prayer after we serve someone, we are giving people a new and redefined first impression of who Jesus is. This impression destroys any other impression that they may have had in the past through bad experiences with other Christians. We constantly get comments from people who say “I have never heard of a church that would do something like this” or “I have never felt so blessed and loved by a simple act of kindness”.

After consistently serving every Saturday for just an hour and a half for 6 months we have started seeing many of the people we have reached out to come to our church on Sundays where they get to hear in even more detail about who Jesus is and what he has done for them.

At a recent free block party outreach we put on I met a student, introduced him to Christ then baptized him. This was one of the neatest moments of my life. We have multiple people in our church picking up those who we have met during kindness outreaches and bringing them to church (i.e. second Facebook post at the top). We have people that have never been to church before coming in our doors and actually enjoying it. The truth is God chooses to bless those who are warriors for his kingdom. Strangely enough our warriors clean toilets, rake leaves, mow yards, and pass out soda, however sometimes there is nothing more fulfilling to us, and useful to God, than to reach out to the Lost providing them with a spotless toilet, a clean looking yard, and a quenched thirst.

The Few Can Touch Many by Steve Sjogren

It doesn’t take a large crew to make leave a big footprint.

Victory in God’s kingdom has always gone to the underdogs. God nearly always anoints a miniscule group to do his bidding. I find this encouraging since all that I have started has been small – usually for a long time if not forever. What God builds usually starts (and typically stays) on the smallish side.

I used to say that it started small but then would grow large, but now I see that often numbers usually only grow fat. I now see that it is almost always the case that a radical but small fringe gets the Kingdom lifestyle and message. Why does it stay small? It’s all about the offensive cost of mercy. Jesus said “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt. 18). The context of that verse could well be restated, “Many are called but few choose” the Kingdom. The Kingdom, as God defines it, is always something that is set up according to his parameters, not ours. Most don’t like that much, so they protest, they decide it’s not for them, and vote themselves out of it like the religious people in Matthew chapter 18 (yes, it was the religious people who decided not to participate in the Kingdom once they figured out how the mercy of God works as in this story).

This Jesus story is fresh with me today. A few of us went out mixing it up with dozens of lost people who, like those in Nineveh, didn’t know their left hand from their right. We did a $1 carwash. We washed people’s cars and paid them a dollar for the privilege of serving them. We stunned many. Numbers teared up. We teared up! I’m always amazed what can happen when a few, enthused, dedicated people move in a common direction and pour their hearts into something. Do something great with God. It only takes a few.

The Human Conveyor Belt

Here is a real simple one, that we often overlook. . .


hauling foodNo matter what type of SE project you are working on, chances are you have to unload and load materials.  Contrary to popular opinion, I have found that you should NOT do all the preparation behind the scenes in the name of being volunteer friendly.  Keep in mind, there going to be some new folks showing up to your outreach.  They are really afraid of “witnessing” or “evangelism” because they think most of the work here will be talking.  Those of you that are veterans, no it is more about doing than talking.  When folks gather for an outreach, they are either socializing, or fretting about all wondering if they will mess this up.  Give them something to do.  Here is way to encourage conversation, team building, and effective utilization of volunteers (if they are standing around they get bored then you will lose them).  Let’s say you have 250 boxes of Coke Zero to move from the outreach shed into three SUV with ice and coolers waiting.  Do not make the mistake you see above, where only three strapping young men heft the materials, walk it fifty yards or so, and load it.

plenty of helpInstead make a human chain.  There is an art to this believe it or not.  Look at the group of people you have meandering around and try to figure out how many you need to span the gap from the staging area to the truck.  Next, arrange folks based on heigth and reach.  Put them in a straight line from loading pile to target.  Then, this is real important, have every other person turn and face the opposite direction.  This will cause each person to be a “cog” in your human conveyor belt. They now face a partner.  Now small boxes of just about anything (try to keep the weight under 15 lbs) will fly from one place to another via simple “pushing” of the object from one person to the next.  Even better, since there is no twisting, bending, or lifting it will go smooth and easy.  The nice thing about such an ergonomic system, is that it makes it easy for even kids to help out, and people can still have conversations with one another as they work since they are facing two people each.

Try it. . .you will slap your head after you see it work the first time and wonder why you didn’t do this earlier!