There is a story in the Bible about four men who had leprosy. They were living outside the walls of the city of Samaria. The city was under siege by Ben-Haddad, King of the Arameans. The people inside the city were starving. The lepers came to a conclusion sitting there between the city walls and the Aramean army. They said, “Why stay here until we die? If we stay here, we will die. If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’-the famine is there and we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live, if they kill us, then we die” (2 Kings 7:3b-4, NIV). These men knew that if they didn’t do something, they would just die. They looked at their options and took the logical one. They made their choice based on sound reasoning.
I ask you the same question that these men asked themselves. Why do you sit there until you die? Go and do something! You think you may know what will happen, but you really don’t. None of us do. These four lepers acted and God used them to save a starving city. What you do in the name of God can be used to save starving souls.
So, you ask, where do I begin? In order to reach people who are far from God or people you do not have any idea where they are with God, you do something for them. This is often called servanthood evangelism. It is also called active kindness. It is demonstrating God’s love by doing an act of service for another person to show them God’s love in a practical way with no strings attached. This kind of service I guarantee will get people’s attention.
So, does this really work? Yes! I went out in a neighborhood and handed out 60 watt lightbulbs door to door. I gave away all 60 bulbs. Not one person who was home turned them down. Think about it, everyone will eventually need a new lightbulb. When they inevitably asked what the catch was, I told them, “No catch.” So then they’d ask, “Why are you doing this?” I’d tell them what Steve Sjogren tells them: “I just want to show you the love of Jesus Christ in a practical way.” Sometimes that would end the conversation. Sometimes they would ask what church I attend. And sometimes they would talk with me about a decision they needed to make, a problem that needed prayer, or even about their own relationship with God.
Servanthood “just do something” evangelism is a great way to begin the process of relational evangelism. It is an entry point that works well with so many people. People are expecting churches to ask for things or complain about things. What if they were to see us actually doing something that they saw as a benefit to them and to others? Now that can open doors.
There are lots of directions you can take with servanthood evangelism. Sjorgren has compiled 101 things to do in a book called 101 Ways to Reach Your Community. It is a great resource for individuals, families, a small groups, and a church.
Right now, I have a certain neighbor I haven’t met, but this neighbor’s yard is aweful. It needed to be cut two months ago. I am afraid that I could get lost in that yard and never be found again. I am considering volunteering to cut their grass. I don’t know why it’s not cut, but I will tactfully try to find out. I’ll tell them that I want to show the love of Jesus in a practical way. This is certainly true, but I also want our neighborhood to look nice. I’ll let you know what happens.
One last thing. On the lightbulb experience, I talked to a man at a bus stop and gave him one of the lightbulbs. He asked why I was giving them away. I told him. He was willing to talk while waiting for his bus. This man ended up asking Jesus Christ to be his Savior and Lord right there at the bus stop! He said he had been thinking about God and about life for a while, but did not know how to talk to anyone or know anyone he wanted to confide in. I believe it was God who put us together. That kind of thing had never happend before to me or since, but for that to happen I had to get out and just do something.