ACTS OF KINDNESS

8 06 2016

543d91b2112d4.imageBY STEVE DUNN

“Like a  a good neighbor, State Farm is there” – tag line for popular television commercial

I confess I often leave the room when the commercials come on.  Only the most clever or creative reverse that urge.  One that captures me has people finding themselves in unexpected predicaments or overwhelming problems and they say these “magic words” and poof!-their friendly insurance agent appears to help them.

One of the best ways for a local church to connect with its community and become a valuable neighbor is to keep their Acts of Kindness ministry active, aware, and timely.  Many years ago the “random acts of kindness” movement emerged in America, then refined by people like Steve Sjoberg and the Vineyard Fellowship into “servant acts of kindness.”   Such a commitment changed the focus and the image of local cburches–definitely for the better.

After a while all good ministries lose momentum and slip into the plethora of church activities that occupy volunteer time and church resources.  That might be acceptable for study group or worship methods, but it cannot happen to the church’s outreach.

It is helpful to remember these simple principles:

  1. Be more intentional than random.  Acts of Kindness need planning so that they produce the best results, avoid embarrassment to your people, and don’t cause your own busy people to think they are wasting their valuable time.
  2. Don’t abandon the spontaneous.  Nonetheless, sometimes the Holy Spirit presents you with an unanticipated opportunity.  Go for it!
  3. Teach your people to do individual acts of kindness.  Teach people to be alert to their neighbors and their needs, give them some tools of discernment, and encourage them not to have to have a crowd to serve Jesus well.
  4. Follow up. Not for bragging, but for ministry–try reconnecting with the people you have helped (a) to see if you really helped (b) see if there is a deeper need (c) connect them to the Jesus in whose name you were helping them.
  5. Pray for opportunities by giving you and your church a heart for their neighbors.

This post originally appeared in my blog BEING THE BEST CHURCH FOR THE COMMUNITY.

 

© 2015 by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com 

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A SIMPLE ACT OF KINDNESS

15 09 2013

This video posted on YouTube by Pastor Rufus embodies what it means to build bridges to the Bridge by acts of kindness and creating redemptive relationships. – STEVE





AN OPEN MIND

14 02 2012

One of my passions is evangelism.  I know it’s the dreaded “E-Word” in many church circles, a rouser-of-hostility in parts of the broader culture.  But evangelism is the “Good News of the Kingdom.”  It is the awesome and life-transforming proclamation that our Holy God chooses mercy over judgment, loves us enough to take the penalty of our sin, and give is new life as part of His Kingdom of love, wholeness, and peace.  It’s the Good News that we are destined for joy!

One of the things I teach is a discipline known as apologetics, explaining the faith to people.  It is sometimes called defending the faith, but it is my experience that what I do best is to re-present the faith so that people discover the Good News that God loves them and wants them to be a part of the awesome thing He is doing to bring abundant and eternal life to humankind.

The Apostle Peter challenged us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  I do not believe that means it is my job to persuade men to agree with me, but to help men see the truth and agree with God. When I have a reason that can be articulated intelligently and lovingly, the Holy Spirit finds fertile ground for life transformation.

Austin Farrar once wrote:  “Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”

Ravi  Zacharias has  that the purpose of apologetics “is not to get someone to change their mind, but to open their mind.”

The apostle Paul said that the ultimate process of becoming a disciple requires a renewing of our mind (Romans 12:1).

So an open mind—which is an honest mind—is a mind that is receptive to the Truth—the One who sets us free.

So it is my prayer each day that I will say or do something that helps people open their minds to the great Good News that God loves them and wants to make them New.

© 2012 by Stephen L. Dunn





DO YOU WANT TO REACH YOUR UNCHURCHED NEIGHBORS?

2 12 2011

Who are your neighbors?

Increasingly traditional churches cannot answer that question with any specificity.  Some congregations are reverse commuters, returning Sundays and perhaps Wednesdays to gather and worship in a community in which they no longer live.  Other churches live in a bubble of doctrinal isolation (i.e., we do not want to tainted by the world and therefore have little contact) or inward-focused fellowship, spending almost 100% of their time with other church people.  Some congregations are even afraid of their neighbors.  As a result no attempt is made to reach those unchurched neighbors except the billboard or sign out front.

Who are our neighbors?  The scriptures make it very plain – they are the people for whom Christ died and who Christ loves.  Some of them are connected to churches, some are not.  Some are Christians, some are not.  Some are church drop-outs.  Some have absolutely no Christian roots and have barely a clue as to what you do behind closed doors on Sunday morning.

If we think of those neighbors at all, we generalize them as the lost and then act as if they’re not really lost by largely ignoring them.

Do you want to reach your unchurched neighbors?  That is an essential question for every congregation that claims to be an obedient and faithful part of the Body of Christ.

If you truly want to reach your unchurched neighbors, then there some realities you must come to grips with.

1. They are not your enemies, nuisances, nor your project.  These are three perceptions that will drive your neighbors away or create barriers across which they will never pass.  They may not like your faith nor approve of it, but if you see them as your enemies and approach them as such, they will fight back.  They are not persons who get in the way of your ministry. They are people who need your ministry.  Reaching them is far more important than all the church suppers, small group Bible studies, and projects your church may pour its energy into.  They are not a project, a number to be counted, a victory to be one.  They are people, created in the image of God, loved and respected because Christ died for them.  They are people who need a relationship with Jesus Christ and with you, the Body.

2. They have needs that you must first understand and then respond to in the name of Christ.  Too many of us do not know our neighbors well enough to know their needs, let alone address those needs.  We often assume we know them, but that usually leads to assuming they are like us and just need to be persuaded to behave as such.  If you don’t build relationships, listen, and seek to understand–you will not reach your neighbors effectively.

3.  They are have values and dreams.  You may think those values to be sinful or their dreams to be shallow; but you do not build a redemptive relationship with people who you do not respect in some way.

There’s more to be said on this subject, but for now; know that if you want to reach your unchurched neighbors, you will have to begin thinking in new ways.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn





A CHILDLIKE FAITH

3 08 2011

This comes via Greg West and THE POACHED EGG:

A Child-like Faith

by Lee Strobel

When I make evangelism too complicated, I think about Jack – and suddenly I gain clarity again.

For a long time, I wondered whether Jack really understood what he was hearing as he sat in our services week after week.

Jack lives in a residential facility for the developmentally disabled in suburban Chicago, and a volunteer from our ministry to mentally challenged adults would bring him to our church each Sunday morning.

Jack would always sit near the front. When the service was over, he would amble over to the pastor who had taught that day and begin talking in a low mumble. His brown hair would be tousled, his clothes disheveled, his tie askew. His face would have stubble and his thick glasses would be smudged.

I don’t know the diagnosis of Jack’s condition, but for the most part his thinking is unfocused and much of the time his speech is a string of disconnected thoughts. Although he’s an adult, talking with him is similar to communicating with a child.

Then one Sunday, when Jack came over to me after the service, I saw that his right arm was in a cast and sling. I pointed to the injury. “Did that hurt?” I asked.

Jack glanced at his arm and then at me. He replied in his halting voice: “I come here… and hear… about Jesus…and I think about… all the pain… he went through… for me… and I think… this was nothing!”

That’s when I knew that he understood. “Jack,” I said as I reached out to hug him, “that’s the most profound thing anyone has said to me for a long time.”

There’s no doubt that Jack loves Jesus. And what happens when a person truly adores someone? He can’t keep it to himself. So he routinely tells the other residents and staff at the facility where he lives that Jesus loves them. He encourages them to visit “my church.” (He’s very proud of his church.)

In his group at the facility, the attendants give each of the residents half an hour a day to play whatever they want on the tape machine or radio. Most put on the ballgame or music, but not Jack…

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING >>>

A Child-like Faith / LeeStrobel – Bible Gateway





THERE ARE NON-CHRISTIANS IN THE HOUSE

2 06 2011

Many of our churches still choose an attractional model of ministry in general and evangelism in particular.  But if they are successful in getting non-Christians through the door, will they truly connect with them in a potentially life-transforming way? Thomas Weaver, writing for RESURGENCE has some important thoughts for evaluation.

Okay I’m not a Christian, but I’ve finally made the decision to come to your church this Sunday. Don’t expect much from me though. If something comes up I might not, but right now I’m planning on it. I feel like I need to go, but I’m not sure why. I want to tell you a few things about myself before you meet me.

1.  I’m not going to understand religious language or phrases so be aware of that when we talk. I don’t understand slain in the spirit, God is moving in me, covered in the blood, I need to die to self, you just need to be in the Word, what you need is a new life, etc. If we have conversation filled with religious talk, I’m probably not going to understand half of the words…and maybe think you’re a little crazy.

2.  When you ask me how I’m doing, know that I don’t trust you. I’m probably going to lie and tell you I’m fine. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you; it’s just that I come from some pain and am not sure if I trust you yet. How about you tell me your story first? If I like you and get the vibe that you’re not trying to capture my soul or anything, I’ll tell you mine.

3.  I’ve got pretty rough language and I can be bitter and angry about some things. If I sense in you a mindset of superiority, I’m out. If you are just waiting for your turn to talk instead of truly listening to me, I’m not going to be interested. Don’t expect me to be exactly like you.

4.  Don’t make a big deal of introducing me to everyone you know. I understand a couple of people, but please; don’t set up a welcoming line. I’m just there to check it out; I need a bit of space.

5.  I’m going to be looking for genuine interest in me. I don’t want to feel like your personal salvation project or be a notch on your “I saved one” belt. If this Jesus is who you say he is, then I’m looking forward to seeing him in you. That’s how it works, right?

6.  I’m going to have questions. I need truth, not your preferences or your religion, so can you just tell me what the Bible says?

7.  I need to feel welcomed. Is there a time limit or something on my visit before I’m supposed to feel unwelcomed? I mean, I’ve been to other churches and there seemed to be a push for me to make up my mind or something. How long until I’m unwelcomed?

Thanks for hearing me out. I’m pretty sure I’m going to come this Sunday. But I might not.





FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE EVANGELISM COACH: BARRIERS

20 05 2011

A few years ago, I listened to a talk given by Mark Mittelberg, who was on the staff with Willow Creek at the time.

It was titled “Sharpening Your Evangelistic Edge.”

Below are 8 barriers to effective communication that Mr. Mittleberg shared. If you have others to add, I’d love to hear them.

Barriers to Effective Evangelism:

  1. Lack of freshness in our relationship with God.
  2. Lack of confidence in the Scripture
  3. Lack of exposure to the Scripture
  4. Lack of clarity about the gospel itself.
  5. Lack of courage to present Jesus as the only way of Salvation.
  6. Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel.
  7. Lack of preparation.
  8. Lack of guts (courage).

The simple solution to most all of this is to spend time nurturing your own relationship with the Lord.

You’ll want to share about what God is teaching you from the Scripture, you’ll be propelled by grace, and you’ll have the confidence in the power of the gospel.

We need to study to know the truth, know what we believe, and know how to share it.  We should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that lies within us.

Let me ask you this?

Are you prepared to share your faith today?

Is your relationship with God vital enough that you cannot help but share?