Archive for May 2011

Spread out your outreach attempts

I have always liked fishing. Since I was a little kid I have enjoyed getting out on the water and going after fish – all kinds of fish. I have never been all the exclusive in my quest, I just love bringing in as many fish as possible. As a kid I was so enamored with fishing I used various illegal approaches. I had fish traps made out of mesh. I sometimes used explosives to bring them in. I even tried using electricity in the water to shock fish into my bag. I wasn’t embarrassed about my penchant for catching. It is perhaps incorrect to say that I love “fishing”. It’s not the culture of it that I was taken by. It’s the notion of bringing in of fish that got me excited, regardless of how it happened. You could say most accurately, I loved catching!

I have seen that Servant Evangelism is particularly effective in that it uses various forms of God’s kindness to bring in a variety of types of fish. Different kinds of baits attract different kinds of fish.

If we hope to attract lots of fish — and that is the name of the game if we are professional fisher people — we must try for a number of kinds of fish. To have just one pole in the water isn’t going to cut it. Since we are trying to attract a lot of different kinds of fish, let’s put lots of poles in the water. We are bound to catch something. Maybe God will bless and we will come back with a record catch as the Disciples did on occasion. Let’s do a carwash while we also give away bottles of water and clean windshields with a different team.

I’m on your TV tonight!

Last week I taped a segment of a TBN broadcast out of their Nashville studio. It was a great show! There were several guests, all of them focused in on aspects of evangelism. I’ll let you discover what I talked about. Hint: you will laugh your socks off during my segment. I didn’t set out to be funny but it came across that way. Just saying.

Time: 10:00 PM Eastern, 9:00 Central, 7:00 Pacific.

Let me know what you think of it!

Sunflower seeds and Peggy’s loss

Today I went out with a serving team to give away free flower seeds near our church in Oregon. One lady I ran into was a little skeptical – she wouldn’t open her door. She rather reluctantly received some sunflower seeds, but she shut her screen door after taking the seeds. Of all the people I encountered today she was the only one I felt led to pray for. I asked, “Is there anything I could support you in prayer for?” She said, “Well, I have lost my two sons in the past three weeks.” Wow. How do you recover from a statement like that. I offered to pray for her for just “ten seconds.” She thought that sounded nice. She spontaneously placed her hand up on the screen, palm stretched out to me. I kept my prayer to ten seconds. I prayed for God’s mercy to come near to my new friend, Peggy. I then blessed her house with the peace of God, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. She welled up with tears. It was a moment.

Simple.

There are few moving parts to Servant Evangelism. I like that. I have been a big fan of all things related to expanding the Kingdom of God since I became a Believer when I was in college. The problem with most approaches to bringing Christ to our culture is they are often rather complex. Let me restate that – they are usually complex. In order for something great to take place we need to decomplexify things significantly. Let’s get things down to their basic components.

Serve ‘em all.
Share your hope.
Pray a ten second prayer over ‘em.

…Continue ad finatum.
The results? In God’s hands.

It doesn’t take long to make an impact.

If you have just a bit of time – a matter of a few minutes – God can use you to do something tremendous. Going back to yesterday’s reference to Gideon’s attack (Judges 7), it doesn’t take much to accomplish a lot. His attack was simple, took just a bit of planning, and less than an hour to pull off. Still, the enemy headed for the hills in sheer terror.

The scriptures say that with God “a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day.” As God gets involved with chronological time it both expands and contracts depending on what he is doing. He can take an hour and cause it to accomplish more than we might have thought could happen in an entire week with great effort. Have you been absorbed in an activity to the degree that you lost track of time? It’s during those intense times that we are able to make gains that are hard to imagine when we are merely exerting a personal effort. God has to show up for such intensity to occur.

God shows up when we do outreaches regardless of their length. I have consistently found that as we serve our way into the hearts of others his presence becomes tangible. He delights in taking whatever amount of time that is available and reveals his presence to both those who are serving and those who are served.

Sometimes small numbers work best

Many times I have gone outreaching with just a small cadre of folks. Sometimes that has been a home group. At other times I have gone out with just a couple of friends who wanted to get some outreach experience. I regularly go out to serve with just one pastor who is curious about Servant Evangelism.

When we go out to serve with just a few people, one of the consistent comments we hear is “You people are everywhere! There must be hundreds of you!” That’s exactly what the Mideonites thought when they saw Gideon’s 300 men surrounding their camp each armed with a torch and a clay pot (Judges 7). There is something powerful about projecting a large footprint even when we are small. The Kingdom of God is often like this. Peter and the early Church came across as larger than life as they went about doing good, teaching about Jesus, casting out demons and caring for the poor.

Be encouraged. You may only have a small group at this point as you go into the community. Later your numbers will swell and that will be fine, but in a sense you are more pure, more powerful now with your few than you will ever be later when you have the luxury of greater momentum.

It doesn’t take a lot of people to make an impact.

A small group can make a mighty impact. I have seen time and again how God can take our willingness, our availability, and invest it in a significant way. There have been times when I have been the only one who has shown up to do outreach. Those are the trying situations where I have had to ask myself how committed I am to this approach to sharing God’s love.
When a small team is reaching out the appearance of things can be that our numbers are much larger than reality. We appear as Gideon’s army of just 300. It’s clear that with a minority we can make an impact upon the majority as long as we are a little organized. It helps that God’s anointing is upon us! After all, if his strength doesn’t rest upon us what can we do that will make an impact?

It’s inexpensive.

It doesn’t take much of an investment to reach out. Something pretty amazing can happen with a small investment. In fact, some of my favorite outreach projects cost virtually nothing. For example, windshield washing is a blast. Do a quality job (don’t leave a streak or you won’t be helping anyone!) and a windshield can be cleaned in less than a minute. I leave a special windshield outreach card on the driver’s side window next to the door handle. A team of 5-6 people can clean a couple of hundred windshields in an hour. Not only does this cost virtually nothing, it noticeably improves the lives of those you serve. By the way, pray for the owners of those cars as go about cleaning. You will be surprised at the specific insights you receive with each car you clean. God will show you how to pray specifically as you move from car to car. That insight is a gift to make you to help you move in both the physical and the spiritual realm.

SE will catalyze your people

Typical evangelism approaches segregate Believers into categories – the gifted and the ungifted – those who feel called and those who don’t sense God speaking to them helping others find eternal life with Jesus. A very small percentage of the church world feels naturally gifted at evangelism. My friend Rice Broocks, who recently earned a doctoral degree from Fuller Seminary with a focus on evangelism, indicates that as few as 1% operate in the office of Evangelist in the Church. That’s a small percentage but God mightily uses that minority to stir up the Body of Christ to aim outwardly.

We need catalysts to help jumpstart us into believing we can make a difference. We can’t psyche ourselves into believing rightly about such things. It is up to God to cause these synapses fire mentally, but he needs us to show up with open minds so he has something to work with.

Begin to reach out from where you are, not from where you aren’t. That’s all you can do. Don’t concern yourself with the burden of needing to totally nail your outreach efforts. Just start and see what God brings about. You are probably an evangelist. How do I know? You are reading this blog on a regular basis with enthusiasm. You are dreaming about how to reach more people with greater effect. You are nearly OCD about seeing lost people become found – seeing them become Believers. You are indeed an evangelist. That’s why your blood pressure rises when you connect with seeing others come to know Jesus. God will use you to stir up momentum – to catalyze those round about you. Pray this now then let the pieces fall where they may under God’s direction:
Holy Spirit, here I am. Take my life, empower me to serve your purposes in reaching out to the lost. Use me to reach them. Use me to stir up a passion in your Church to become passionate about the not-yet-included you so love. Here I am!”

SE Creates space for your church to get involved

Deep down everyone in your church wants to do ministry. Each one wants to make a difference. It may be that they don’t know what they want to do – they may not know how they’re going to proceed forward — but if they can get just a bit of a vision they will become enthused. Give them something practical to do. Give away small tokens of God’s love. Yesterday I gave away several packets of flower seeds (with an outreach card attached) to strangers as I went throughout my day. They were fairly stunned at this small gesture and my words (“Here is a gift to show you God’s love in a practical way…”). Serve by doing things that are important but distasteful to others. Clean restrooms. Squeegee windshields. Go door-to-door with ladders and clean out rain gutters. You will be surprised at how fulfilling it is to get gunk under your fingernails! The best is yet to come.