Why Kindness Outreach | Deep Dive

God’s Kindness leads to radical life change.  It cuts through the distractions and skepticism of our modern multimedia existence. Not only does it reach the unchurched in a novel way, but it also transforms even veteran believers as we just make ourselves available as conduits of God’s love.

There is nothing random about God’s Kindness. It’s intentional! Romans 2:4 explains the mission entirely. In a nutshell, the battle plan is a simple process:

Notice God

You must know your creator and be actively listening and discerning your calling.

Reach up.

The question isn’t, “Is God up to something here?” Rather, it’s “What is God doing?” In other words, he is up to something in everyone you and I meet. “What is God doing in the person’s life? What can I do to pick dip on what he is doing?”

Notice Others

You are not here alone, God created all of us, and he wants us to love one another.

Reach out.

The great challenge of growing disciples

C.S. Lewis notes that if we could see the true spiritual condition of each person, we’d be tempted to bow down and worship them. People are all that counts in this life. God is up to something with every single person. Let’s serve them and so nudge them forward by the power of God’s Spirit.

Help Others Notice God

It is our most significant accomplishment to bring people to know Christ and his freedom.

Reach back and forth.

People need to hear the words of God’s love, but before that they usually need to experience God. Let’s start the nudging process

It’s about the message, but the word of the head starts best in the heart then work toward the head.

Norwegians have a saying – “Friends enter the house through the kitchen.” In other words, friends come into the house by the back door where it’s casual and inviting, not the front door that leads into the formal room. When people experience first hand the softer side of God and his people, spark up. Our role is to fling seeds. God’s part is to cause the seeds of his kindness and generosity to bear fruit.

The most effective evangelism involves action and words. Let’s demonstrate God’s love through small acts of kindness.

Our Polarized Culture Requires Something Different

Andy McQuitty believes that it’s getting harder to be a Christian in our post-Christian culture. As a pastor of Irving Bible Church in Texas, Andy is seeing the church wake from a “Christian Pax Americana” to an era of intensified hostility.

Social Barriers To Faith Sharing

According to the Barna Research Group, despite technology making our world “smaller,” the challenge to reach the world is as challenging as it has ever been.

As you can see from the graph above, we are losing ground, not gaining it.  The average Christian today has a heightened sensitivity to the perception of social barriers when sharing their faith. They are more likely to agree that faith-sharing is only valid when they already have a relationship with the other person.  Even with a neighbor, friend or relative, they admit they avoid spiritual conversations out fear of rejection that would injure that relationship. They are also less excited about sharing the gospel with a stranger.

Individual Barriers To Faith Sharing

A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. According to the Barna Research Group, ten percent of Christians, in 1993, who had shared about their faith, agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase. This jump could be the result of many factors, including poor ecclesiology (believing “the local church” is somehow separate from the people who are a part of it) or personal and cultural barriers to sharing faith. Yet, the most dramatic divergence over time is on the statement, “Every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith.” In 1993, nine out of 10 Christians who had shared their faith agreed (89%). Today, just two-thirds say so (64%)—a 25-point drop.

What is “Servant Evangelism”

Servant Evangelism involves two transformational elements:  Servanthood and Evangelism. Think about an approach where Mother Teresa meets Billy Graham.  We bring God’s love by simply serving others in practical ways with no expectations and giving the credit for this humble service to Jesus.

Servant Evangelism is not new.  It was first used effectively by Jesus. Every one of his major teachings was preceded by a tactical demonstration of kindness.  These were often powerful demonstrations that met very real, felt needs. Whether you are talking about changing water into wine to help out at a distant cousin’s wedding, healing the sick, or feeding the masses before talking about the Kingdom of God, Jesus got the crowd’s undivided attention by doing an act of kindness.  Then he pointed back to the act and said, this is what God’s love is like.

Today, we wash cars instead of feet, but the message is the same.  Let’s not be afraid to get our hands dirty loving our communities. Great things happen for churches that demonstrate a servant heart toward their community.  Sure your church will grow, but more importantly, you will change the atmosphere of your city and the culture of your church by making it a priority to serve others.  Kindness Outreach represents an easy, practical, first step toward helping believers share their faith.

The focus of servant evangelism is doing acts of kindness for anyone and everyone. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10). An example of servant evangelism could be something as simple as handing out free water bottles on a hot day or taking bags of food to needy families during holidays.  The variations are endless, but the common denominator is that nothing is asked for in return. One of the motivations behind this type evangelism is that the Bible tells us that God’s kindness leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4).

There are many benefits of servant evangelism, both for those being served and for those serving. Servant evangelism reaches people in the moment.  It exposes non-Christians to Christians showing God’s love in unmistakable and non-threatening ways. It is easy to turn down an invitation to walk into a church building, but receiving a free service with no strings attached is harder to resist. In fact, it usually piques curiosity as to why someone would go out of his or her way to perform this act of kindness. Servant evangelism has the potential to soften a person’s heart, enabling them to hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a good way to “water” seed previously sown (see 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Servant evangelism benefits those serving, as well. The actions we do with our hands and feet transforms our soul.  When you serve others regularly, you become more kind and gentle in everything you do. You embrace Ephesians 4 as a lifestyle.  You begin to see people as God sees them. It completely renews your spirit and bolsters your hope. As Christians, we are called to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

Serving others gives Christians the opportunity to tell others about God’s love. When someone asks why they’re doing what they’re doing, those who are serving can point to Christ—it’s great training ground for other types of evangelism! Also, as Christians, we are to be full of the Holy Spirit in such a way that the Spirit flows out to others (see John 7:38–39). Engaging in servant evangelism puts Christians in situations where the Holy Spirit can minister through them. Jesus commanded His disciples and, consequently, Christians today to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19–20). Jesus didn’t say, “Wait inside your church buildings for the lost to come to you”; He said to “go.” Through servant evangelism the church can show people outside the church that God cares.

Outwardness

The church has left the building. (photo)  Wouldn’t that make a great sign to have out front?

Simply start with a few church kindness outreach events to train your core volunteers.  It is so fun and effective that it will become contagious. Individuals and small groups will quickly initiate and fund their own kindness outreaches because serving others is a blast.

Sometimes, we describe a person’s encounter with our serving as the “head tilt.”  In other words, the is a heart alteration regarding Christians and/or the Church. After only a few experiences with servant evangelism, your folks will prefer doing church over attending church.  They will live for creating that “head tilt” in others. For some of us, it is every bit as exciting as the crack of a bat before a home run or the swish of the net after a perfect jump shot.

Multi-Generational

Church leaders are wondering how to attract younger generations.  Servant Evangelism is perfect for this highly motivated generation.  It is fun, affordable, fluid, and requires minimal training or coursework.  You literally can do an effective outreach, with Millennials, by spending about as much time as a quarterback does in huddle during a football game.  To them, a kindness outreach is really just a different type of flash mob. They love quickly planned events that are fun and a little bit outlandish. They are not just willing, but hungry to be a part of a group that takes risks in the name of change.

That means some groundwork must be done to make a kindness outreach appear as serendipitous.  Provide much needed tools that are doable and that create measurable results. They want to see a return from the seed they plant, and keep in mind, delaying gratification, is not a strength of this generation.  How easy is our job as church leaders if we leverage kindness over conflict?

Doable

Kindness Outreach can involve a diversity of people serving together; Families, Children, Teenagers, Elderly, Introverts, Extraverts, Handicapped folks…. Anyone can serve in a approach that works for their individual preference.  And they can serve by group or mix everyone up together. Talk about fun in community!

Misconceptions:

Not Random Acts of Kindness
As we said above, there is nothing random about God’s Kindness.  Intentional and missional are vital concepts for understanding the practice of Servant Evangelism.  We encourage leaders to pray for the best outreach strategies in your city. Practical, strategic servanthood enables the group you lead to function more like a missional sniper than ever.

Not Advertising
Let’s bring God’s Kindness in practical ways to show the unconditional love of Jesus.  We provide an information card as a point of contact that reads “no strings attached” but we do give them our info so they can follow up on us. This simple deed is a seed of God’s Kingdom — one that will go deep into the hearts of people.

Not Bait and Switch
Some have suggested this is merely a clever marketing scheme or even worse, a form of bait-and-switch.  It would be that if you just pretended to be nice to random people. And then when people attend your church or small group, you really don’t care. You can fake being nice to people but you can’t fake genuine kindness that comes from God.

Not the Gospel
Some have suggested that Kindness Outreaches do little to actually “spread the Gospel.”  God’s Kindness is the gospel. Literally translated: “There is a God who is in love with you. He loves you so much, he sent an army of fun people like us to woo you, in person.  Please let me pay you a dollar just for the privilege of washing your car today? Think of us like the Blues Brothers. We are on a mission from God. . . for you.” (2 Co. 3:2 The gospel is written on our hearts to be known and read by all)