Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Manners Evangelism

I promise this is not my next submission to the Wittenburg Door, but it has the potential to become that. It's just an idea I've been rolling over in my head lately.

Steve Sjogren wrote "Servant Evangelism," an outstanding book on how to be an evangelist in a practical way. Sjogren has been practicing this much of his life and grew his church, Vineyard Christian Church of Cincinnati, by putting it to use in his congregation. It has individual and corporate application.

Based on the principles of Jesus' ministry, Sjogren and his church decided to deliver the Gospel in 1984 by first meeting the needs of the needy. It started as a Christmas charity project with some groceries and Christmas trees taken to people in north Cincy. Sjogren recognized by first meeting essential needs of people, we have fulfilled an important part of Jesus' ministry, and the people will be open to hearing God's word. It's literally the model of Jesus' ministry.

This process appeals to me because it's easy, it can be done by one or many, and serving the needs of people never goes out of style. Sjogren likes to tell the story of his own obsessive/compulsive disorder and his love for cleaning bathrooms (it takes all types in the Kingdom of God, I tell myself). He would go in once a week to one of his favorite restaurants and clean their bathroom. The manager at first thought he was weird -- rightfully so, in my opinion. But they came to accept him and recognize what Sjogren was really about.

Lately, I've been thinking about my own need for more service of men. My heart's there, but my body has not been very active lately. However, my job takes me all over the area.

Being a child of the American South, basic manners have been ingrained in my psyche all my life. I am a "yes, sir, no, sir," kind of person. I refer to women as "madame" or "miss." And I open lots and lots of doors for people. It dawned on me I have an opportunity to deliver the love of God in a very simple, very practical way.

Instead of saying, "You're welcome," when someone thanks me for opening the door, I could say something like, "God loves you," or, "I'm just a servant of God serving you in a practical way." It's a very (very!) small way to counteract the wrong message of greed and selfishness that people perceive of the Church today.

Or, maybe I'm just destined to end up on the "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" page on the Door, someplace next to Carmen.

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