Steve Sjogren pioneered the modern serving/outward-focused church movement more than 30 years ago when he planted a church in Cincinnati that eventually grew…
The first Sunday morning gathering was held at a square dancing barn. A total of 37 in all showed up. Most of the people were from out of town and came just to wish them well. The next Sunday there were about 20! The church grew and moved from location to location – over 20 in all – from the barn to a hotel, then a childcare facility, and even a karate studio!
Momentum and growth came about through a strong emphasis on caring for the needy, small groups, and primarily showing God’s love in practical ways: Proving that “small things with great love with change the world.” Some of the many creative acts of demonstrating God’s kindness included giving away bottles of water at busy stoplights, $1 carwashes where drivers are given money for the privilege of serving them in Jesus’ name, delivering hot dogs and hamburgers door-to-door, and even cleaning toilets for local businesses.
Once “JumpStarted with Kindness” the church grew rapidly from 5 people to over 4,000 in a 600 seat facility with 7 weekend services. When a larger facility was built, weekly attendance grew to over 7,000.
In the book, “The Ten Most Influential Churches of the Past Century” by Dr. Elmer Towns, he names the 100 most influential churches and leaders that have done something different that will challenge the Church. The Cincinnati Vineyard church, launched by Steve, was listed as the 15th most influential of the past century. Towns comments, “Servant Evangelism has opened the thoughts and plans of the church worldwide with the combination of showing kindness and serving that makes a church (and life) more attractive to outsiders and helps them arrive at a new definition of the Church – one that will draw them to church and into relationship with Jesus.” Steve has been nicknamed, “The Godfather of Servant Evangelism.”
Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.
Steve Sjogren is a graduate of Lutheran Bible Institute of California and Bethany College (Kansas). He has been involved in starting new churches (church planting) in Oslo, Norway, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Ohio and Tampa, Florida. He has been the guest on numbers of TV shows around the US and beyond. He has also been featured in a variety of news outlets and publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, Ministries Today. An Associated Press piece that dubbed him the “World Record Holder” of most toilets cleaned by a volunteer (one of many outreach projects that goes to businesses and clean their toilets).