BY 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:
- 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.
- Don’t abandon the spontaneous. Nonetheless, sometimes the Holy Spirit presents you with an unanticipated opportunity. Go for it!
- 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.
- 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.
- Pray for opportunities by giving you and your church a heart for their neighbors.