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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24 05 2014

Thank you Justin Meier for sharing this video from the VERGE NETWORK

Check them out





22 05 2014

sharing-Bible

BY STEVE DUNN

One of my PTI students from western Pennsylvania, Heidi Mikulin,posted this on her Facebook page today:

“Two young men walked by my front porch today. It was not the first time I had seen them, and I knew the mission they were on. After pleasantries, they asked if I was used to the weather here in PA. These two boys were from out of town, and they were not accustomed to the changes in weather. I asked them what God was inviting them to do today. They began talking about their mission, how they were missionaries away from home to spread news. I asked them to sit and chat with me for a while. The three of us read the Bible. I questioned them, and they asked me questions. As we talked, I shared my Good News. They couldn’t understand the difference in our beliefs, so I asked them to share their testimony. When they had finished sharing with me, I told them my testimony. I got to introduce them to my Jesus, and how He changed my life because He is who He says He is, and He did what He said He did. I prayed with them before they left. Funny, I had expected to have a Bible study on my front porch today, but I could have never guessed who it would be with.”

1982045_4083129091984_313659436_nHeidi is practicing one of the  most important aspects  of The Bridgebuilders Principle by stepping into the zone of the unknown to build redemptive relationships.  And a key element of this starting spiritual conversations.  First of all we must be open to meeting the stranger, for he is also our neighbor,  We need to set aside fear.  We need to exercise courage to move beyond discussing the weather to start spiritual conversations.  And we will see what God will do.

I’d love to hear and share other stories like Heidi’s. Do you have one we could share?





GUERILLA LOVIN’ BREAKFAST

9 01 2014

 

 

This is an awesome example of the Bridgebuilders Principle (“building redemptive relationships with the community”).  I thank George for permitting us to reprint this from his newsletter.  George is the pastor of Turning Point Church in Mechanicsburg PA.  – Steve

by George Spangler’

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Jn 13: 34 – 35

 

Please Dont Do This

 

Recently, I became frustrated with the numerous stories of stingy Christians who made a point out of being overtly critical to the servers that waited on them.  Perhaps you saw the story of the Pastor who was offended that an 18% gratuity was added to his bill.  He crossed out the automated gratuity and wrote these words, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?”   On top of that I was frustrated with the stories and posts of how Christmas has become so commercialized.  I read an article about the number of people killed or seriously injured in Black Friday shopping related, crowd stampeding incidents.  My secular friends used these types of stories as rational to stay away from church altogether, and sometimes I can understand how they feel.

 

 

Turning Point Church

 

But these stories do not describe the Christ followers I know.  The people that I know who love Jesus are generous and loving and so I gave Turning Point Church a challenge.  I said, “These stories do not describe  the Christ followers I know, let’s get out there and intentionally love a server this Christmas season.  Let’s do our part to share the love of Jesus and be exceedingly generous in someones life.  I need nominations of hard work servers that are struggling to make ends meet.”

 

 We were led to a woman that we will call “Susan.”  Susan is a mother of four small children and is working hard to provide for them.  We called the restaurant she worked at and arranged with the owner to be seated in her section.  We told them what we were going to do and asked them to keep it a secret. She had no idea why we were there or why we requested her. We didn’t know her and she didn’t know us, but we were about to have a lot of fun getting to know each other.

 

 I  invited people to our “Guerilla Lover” breakfast.  That’s right!  Guerilla Love (jumping out from behind a tree, kind of guerilla, and showering her with love and kindness in the name of Jesus. )  I loved to lend you my Guerilla Lover book, just email me.

 

 I had two expectations of the participants:  1.) Come and eat breakfast with us at this diner on a Thursday morning, order whatever you want and 2.) leave at least a $20 tip.

 

 I found 11 people from Turning Point who were able to make the Thursday breakfast and who were willing to leave a generous tip. I was also blessed to reach out to one of our ministeriums which brought about the attendance of some awesome COG pastors like:  Dan Masshardt, Zack Wilt, Stefanie DiFrancesco, Charlie Zahora, and Dave Williams. Tracy Connor, who is planting VisionPointe Church in York, was also able to attend.

 

Participants at the Guerilla Love Breakfast

 

 After enjoying a breakfast together and spending time getting to know our server, we presented her with a Christmas Card signed by all of us and containing our tips.  I explained,  “We got together to celebrate Christmas and the joy that Jesus brings us.  That’s why we are eating together today. God has been so good to us and we want to celebrate it together and share it with you.  So we got you a Christmas Card too.”  She looked at me a little confused and said, “Thank you.” When she opened the card, she noticed it contained a wad, and I mean a wad of dough.  She was taken back and overcome with tears.  In the name of Jesus, we were able to bless this wonderful hardworking mom with a tip of $440. At the same time, we gave witness to the wonderful generosity of our awesome savior, who entered the world to give his life as a ransom for ours.

 

 I couldn’t think of more enjoyable way to spend that $20 than to eat with people I care about, celebrating the love of our amazing God, and giving generously to a stranger who God prepared in advance for us to meet.

 

 Here is what some of the others are saying:

 

  “It was fun.  Sure we all have our ups and downs but overall as we express Christ’s love and action to the world around us should’nt it be a blast?   I will never forget the expression on Susan’s face as she experienced that love for real.” -Tracy Connor

 

 

“It was fun to be there, but mostly it was fun to make an impact on one life that day.”

 

– Dan Masshardt

 

 “The following Sunday I told the story of our experience and I shared the story of the starfish.  With so many “starfish on the beach”  what difference did we really make?   We made a difference in Susan’s life.  It mattered to her.” – Stef Difrancesco

 

 

“There aren’t very many days and experiences that a person will never forget. This was one of them. Our server will always remember this and so will the 17 of us that participated. I shared this story with our church on Christmas Eve, as an example of what God’s church should look like in the world. If I leave a $20 tip, that’s not a big deal. But when a whole group of us each leaves a $20 tip, that is a big deal. Thanks for the opportunity!”

 

– Charlie Zahora

 

 

“It was probably the best part of Christmas break. Just for us as a group of pastors to be meeting the same time as your act of love so we could join in–that was a divine plan. Living out my faith in practical ways has always been my style so joining with you was a blessing. Thanks for inviting us. Also as a conference guy I typically hang around with pretty committed believers so I am always looking for opportunities to meet with people not yet a part of the faith community. So thanks for the opportunity to share God’s love in a very practical way.”– Dave Williams

 

 “It was the best part of my Christmas week. the opportunity to see Christ’s love in action was a real blessing.”

 

– Zack Wilt

 

 

I am looking forward to next year’s Christmas Guerilla Love Breakfast, perhaps it will become a movement with multiple locations and multiple blessings.  Who knows?  Maybe we will eat together and perhaps be an answer to someone’s prayer for God to miraculously provide.

 

 Share the Joy,

 

 George Spangler





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





WILL ANY ONE BE IN HEAVEN BECAUSE OF YOU?

8 03 2013

by Stephen L Dunn

I was introduced to this church sign today by two different blogs to which I subscribe.  Look at the sign very carefully. Let its message sink in.

Now that you have done this, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree?  At one level, it seems to be a reflection of Matthew 6:19-21:

   “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Instead of pursuing material gain or earthly position, invest yourselves in the lives of people. Build relationships that lead to their reconciliation with God and redemption in Christ.  Their presence in heaven, in part because of your hearts, will be what you treasure in heaven.

I agree with that interpretation and if the sign supports it, I affirm its message.





BRIDGEBUILDING IDEAS

22 02 2013

page25_picture0_1345493656These are some ideas Bridgebuilder churches have used to begin developing a redemptive relationship with their communities.

Volunteering to help the cafeteria workers in the schools

This is a great one for building a rapport with the school and helping your people see that side of life

Taking a Vacation Bible School INTO a neighborhood

This helps people meet you—lets them see their children are safe with you—lets your people meet neighbors who may hide out in their houses otherwise

Offer A GOOD QUESTION Forum in a neighborhood coffee shop

This I can share in detail—but you create a middle space where people are invited to come, enjoy coffee and ask questions about the Bible, God, Christianity etc—where they will not be asked to join anything , agreed or commit to anything.

Throw a Baby Shower for an Unwed Mother

Walk the Neighbor Hood and Ask “How can we make this a better place to live for you?”Great starter for spiritual conversations)

Adopting a Food Bank and Offering Coaching in Food Preparation

Microwavable and easy-to-prepare food is not often present and people have to learn how to use the food they receive

Diaper Changing Stations at Community Festivals

Setting up a Prayer Station at a Community to Pray for Loved Ones in Afghanistan, etc.

Does your church have an idea they would share with us?