I recently read the book, Servant Evangelism: Showing and Sharing Good News, and was pleasantly surprised. Let me start by making a confession – the word “evangelism” gives me the heebie jeebies. I envision people standing on street corners waving their Bibles around, asking me if I’m “saved,” and threatening me with the fires of hell if I am not. While I am sure that many of the people who do this mean well, it’s a real turnoff to me. My decision to surrender my life to Christ was a HUGE turning point that wasn’t going to happen because someone “threatened” me while I was walking down the street.
Servant evangelism is a very different form of evangelism. In a nutshell, it combines random acts of kindness with sharing God’s love. As an example, hold a free car wash and refuse to accept donations. When people ask why, say, “God has been so good to me that I want to pay it forward” … or something else that communicates that your love for God is your motivation for the random act of kindness. Another example is giving out free light bulbs with the message, “For more light, visit our church” affixed to the box.
I actually saw this in action when I was visiting the beach. I was walking for exercise past a church during worship service hours, and people were giving away free bottles of water with a verse about Jesus being the living water and the church’s name and address on a label on the bottle. There was no “sell” involved. They didn’t want money for the water bottles, and they did not try to make me feel guilty for exercising instead of being in church. If I had asked about God, I’m sure they would have been happy to share with me, but I simply said thank you and continued pushing my son in his stroller, and they did not attempt to detain me.
The beauty of this form of evangelism is that it meets people where they are. If God has already been softening someone’s heart, this provides a wonderful opportunity for that person to ask questions about your faith. However, if someone’s heart is not in a place to “hear the good news,” it simply plants a seed. Perhaps years later, when God starts drawing the person to Himself, s/he will remember receiving that free bottle of water and visit that church.
I know that the Great Commission applies to me, just as it does to all Christians, but I have always been leery about “Bible thumping” as a means to do it. I love the simplicity of the idea of servant evangelism, which meets people right where they are, shining God’s love into people’s lives without a “hard sell.”
[Graphic: Cover of the book, Servant Evangelism: Showing and Sharing Good News. Courtesy Amazon.]