ENGAGING PEOPLE WITH SERVANT EVANGELISM
One of the first things I learned when I got saved was the way that simple acts of kindness can open up hearts to the Gospel. When I was a new believer, prior to any training on evangelism or outreach, I felt the Lord prompt me to purchase and gift wrap a box of New Testaments and hand them out at the mall during the Christmas season. I was surprised to see how many people were grateful to receive the gift, and how easily it sparked up conversations about the things of God. I realized that when you bless someone unexpectedly—with no strings attached—it catches their attention.
Over the years, I have used this approach—often referred to as servant evangelism—in a variety of settings. It is an easy conversation starter. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked the question, “What are you doing this for? Nothing is free in this world.” People are so conditioned with this kind of thinking that they have a hard time believing anyone would just bless them without expecting something in return. It becomes a natural segue to explain to people, “I’m just out here sharing the love of Jesus with people,” and immediately offer to pray or engage in a Gospel conversation.
Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” When people experience the love of God in the good deeds that we do, they are seeing the light of Christ shining through our lives. Servant evangelism is a very simple way to share His love with the world around us. And it should cause them to wonder, “What is it about these Christians that makes them so different? Why would they take the time to show me love without asking for anything in return?” The world cannot understand that kind of love, and it leaves them wondering if there is something to believing in God after all.
One of my favorite memories of servant evangelism came when a friend and I decided to go to one of the roughest parts of our city and bless people. We went into a small grocery store and asked for the owner. We explained to him that we wanted permission to buy drinks from his store, and then setup a table by the entrance and give them away and pray for people. To our amazement, he not only agreed, but he actually gave us a couple of cases of drinks to give away to his customers. We had a chance to pray for and minister to so many people that day, just because we gave them some drinks and made ourselves available. I distinctly remember one young woman, mascara dripping down her face in tears, as she encountered the love of God right there in front of her local grocery store.
Servant evangelism is easy and takes very little preparation time. All it takes is an idea of how you can bless someone in a practical way. I have done it as a family with my kids, paired up with a friend and hit the streets, and taken teams from churches into the community. The options are endless. Here are a few ideas that you can try:
Buy some cans of soda or bottles of water, walk around in a place where people are outside, and hand them out with an offer to pray.
Bring some boxes of cookies into local businesses with a note that you just want to bless them and thank them for what they do for the community. They will put these in the break room for their employees. Our church went out and did this one day, and that night, a lady came to our service and rededicated her life to Christ! All over a box of cookies.
Buy some Bibles or other evangelistic books, wrap them up, stick a candy cane on them, and hand them out in public to people during the holidays. You are sure to get a reaction and some questions that can lead right into a Gospel conversation.
Setup a grill on a table in a busy area and grill some hot dogs and give away chips and drinks. Once word gets out there is free food, you’ll draw a curious crowd. We have found that some stores will even allow you to do this out front if you ask permission first and purchase the products from their store.
Grab some cleaning materials, go to local businesses, and ask them if you can clean their bathrooms. Even if they won’t let you, it gives you a chance to tell them you are just trying to share God’s love in a practical way.
Pay for the groceries of the person in front of you at the store. You will be amazed at how this impacts people when you show them love with no strings attached.
I could share story after story about how servant evangelism has opened up doors in people’s lives. Have you had a great experience sharing the Gospel through servant evangelism? We would love to hear about it in the comments.
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.