Going The Kindness Way
“If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” William Penn
One of the biggest guilt-trips in the church is over evangelism. We all know we ‘should’ do it, but most of us feel neither comfortable broaching the subject with others nor confident in our ability to present the gospel. There is a way of sharing our faith that may surprise you: simple kindness.
We’ve been exploring our call to be a missional presence in our Thriving on the Borderland sermon series. A very helpful book on this is Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren (pronounced “show’grin”). Steve tells stories that demonstrate his thesis that “People don’t necessarily remember what they are told of God’s love, but they never forget what they have experienced of God’s love.”
Steve presents five discoveries that empower missional evangelism.
First, people listen when we treat them like friends. People are suspicious of “Christians” who are more often driven by guilt rather than compassion. People sense when we are looking for “results” instead of being satisfied to show love as an end in itself. Our call is to make a friend, be a friend and bring that friend to Christ.
Second, when we serve, hearts are touched. Jesus’ action of washing the disciples feet reached their hearts in ways words never could. When we serve, we gain credibility. We “earn the right to be heard.”
Third, as we serve, we redefine the perception of a Christian. People have stereotypes of the “typical Christian”― and they rarely flatter us! But when we stop to serve, “to show God’s love in a practical way,” they may change their misperceptions.
Fourth, doing the message precedes telling the message. Because people are suspicious, they need to see the gospel in action before they can give it a hearing. When they feel the brush of God’s tender love in a simple act of service, their souls may be stirred within, making them want to know more.
Fifth, focus on planting, not harvesting. This is, admittedly, difficult. We want to see people make a commitment to Christ. We pressure ourselves for visible responses—but such is not the way of the heart. God doesn’t rush the harvest. It’s a matter of preparing, planting, cultivating, and tending, then comes the harvest.
We are living in a new season when the world is not breaking down our doors to come to church. That gives us a wonderful opportunity to go to them—and show God’s love in practical ways. And leave the results to God.
See you in church!