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10 Second Prayer

Last post I wrote about how when our Church chooses to serve our community, God grows and bonds us together in a way few other activities can (you can read that post here). Again, we like to say a church that serves together, grows together. Now, we have observed on our outreaches that When we grow in our love together as fellow believers, the community takes notice and this in of itself becomes an attracting power to the Church and to Jesus.

Jesus commenting on the power that we have when we love each other says: 

By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Now, I have been to many outreach conferences and missions meetings where this verse is always used to prove that Not-yet believers will know we are disciples of Jesus by the love we show our lost communities. However, even though other scriptures support this view completely, in context what Jesus is saying in John 13:35 is completely different. 

You see Jesus is speaking to his DISCIPLES when He says this. So what Jesus is really saying is that our Not-yet believing friends in our community will see the way the CHURCH loves one another within the body of believers, and this will be an overwhelming proof that we are Jesus’ disciples, which becomes a powerful attracting agent for God to draw not-yet believers to Jesus. 1 of the 2 primary ways the early Church became so effective in reaching their communities was simply because they took care of each other, and let the love they showed one another spill out upon “outsiders” who took notice. 

Acts 2:44-47 

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

We have experienced that when we start reaching out in practical ways to show God’s love to our community, that people take notice that there is something different about us. We are doing simple acts of service that are not inherently enjoyable, yet we have smiles on our faces, we are encouraging each other, we have a spirit of unity and joy, and people notice that. Now if we went up to wash the windows of a business and we were all screaming at each other saying,”you washed the windows LAST time, it’s MY turn, you always do this to me! You are being Selfish!” people would want nothing to do with us. However, when people see our love for one another even within our  own outreach teams, people know we are disciples of Jesus, and are drawn closer to Him.

To support this I will give an example. One of the Kindness Outreaches we love doing is going to apartments that have a centralized dumpster and simply offering to take people’s trash from their apartment to the dumpster. A place we frequently send teams is the on campus apartments that are at our local college. This is where we met a student named Cordell. We told Cordell what we were doing and he seemed pretty shocked. He gave us his trash, we prayed a quick 10 second prayer for him, gave him our outreach card, and went on our way. Cordell started coming to our college ministry and within a few weeks he surrendered his life to Christ. I was doing some follow up with him and I asked, what was it that attracted you to come to our Church. Now, when i ask this most of the time people respond, “The Kindness you showed me with no strings attached compelled me to check out your church” however, this times Cordell responded in a different way. He said:

“You know Austin the love you showed me was cool, but I was sitting in my apartment playing video games, doing what i wanted to do. You guys were picking up nasty, dirty trash for students and when I looked at you, I knew that you were having more fun picking up TRASH then i was, doing what i wanted to do. I realized that your group had something I didn’t and I knew that i wanted to be apart of your group.”

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What Cordell was communicating to me, even if he did not know it at the time, was that when he looked at our unity and fellowship, he saw the power and love of Jesus, and knew in his heart he did not have what we had.

We baptized a lady about a month ago who surrendered her life to Christ at one of our Sunday gatherings who literally said the exact same thing that Cordell did.

Due to the fact that most congregations do everything within the walls of their church buildings, i think communities have not seen the love we have for one another displayed in a public forum. This is why living an outward focused life as individuals and corporately as churches is becoming so important. Satan has done a great job selling the lie that if you are a Christ follower you are boring, stingy, and hateful. Nothing pushes back the darkness of this lie more than a group of Christ followers that let the ferocious love they have for one another spill out into the community through doing simple acts of Kindness done with no strings attached. This my friends is not another Outreach Program, but an open handed, Spirit led, people centered ministry that shouts we are Christ followers!… and testifies to the community that the joy that is in our hearts is due to the fact that we are well loved by a gracious Savior and other believers!

Get out there, enjoy yourself, smile, and serve. It will change the world.

“Small things done with great Love will change the world.” – Mother Teresa  

Last post I talked about how we can start setting up introverts to succeed in reaching others for Christ, If you have not read that post i suggest you give it a quick read before you check out this post. You can find it here:

https://cooperaustin.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/1253/

Here are 5 great Kindness Outreaches that allow introverts to thrive and grow in their boldness while serving others.

1. $1 Car Wash

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This Kindness Outreach is where we hold up big signs that read “$1 Car Wash”. People are already thinking that they are getting a great deal, yet when they pull in, we wash their car for free and give them a dollar to remind them that Jesus’ love is free and it just has to be accepted like they are accepting the dollar. A majority of the team just washes and dries while only a few talk to the people we are serving. 

2. Business Window Washing

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Go get some paper towels and Windex and simply go to businesses explaining , “Hey we are washing windows for free today at all the businesses on this strip, and we are not taking any donations” once they agree to letting you wash their windows, have your team get to work.

Looking at this Picture it is obvious that God is working through these children to serve and reach people even though most of them are introverts at this stage in their life. The point here is if they were pushed too far too fast, it would leave a bad taste of what outreach is in their mouth. However, these kids are growing by serving and we have had instances where kids become bold enough to start praying with the people we are serving and even in some instances sharing their faith!

3. Leaf Raking 

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This Outreach is best done in late winter and early spring when there are leaves on the ground. Only 2 or 3 people are required to knock on the door and explain to homeowners that we are leaf raking yards in their neighborhood for free. It takes the other 10 people to do the raking and bagging.

4. Roadside Drink Giveaway

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On a warm day take gatorades and waters to a busy red light and have your team hold up Free Drink Signs. Have people simply walk up to the cars at the red-light, and with a big smile simply say, “Would you like a Free water or Free Gatorade?”

At first this outreach sounds a bit bold and scary for some. However introverts make for great sign holders and there is always a need for team members to refill the bags with drinks.

5. Apartment Trash Takeout

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Most apartments have centralized dumpsters and the people living there are required to take their own trash out to the dumpster. Have your team of 4 or 5 people go door to door saying “We are taking everyone’s trash out for free today just to show you that Jesus loves you in a practical way.” they will almost always bring you their trash and you can give them a replacement bags.

Introverts love this outreach because their job can simply be taking the trash to the dumpster while the other team members can hand the talking and saying quick 10 second prayers with the people that they are serving.

As you can see all of these outreaches consist of the same formula. 2 or 3 talk, the rest of the team serves. God has done some amazing things in the life of introverts in our church (By the way about 70% of church members in the U.S. are introverts). We believe by not trying to push introverts too fast, but by setting them up to succeed in reaching out through serving makes all the difference. This will change an inward focused church into an outward focus church that is a dangerous tool in advancing God’s kingdom.

One of the biggest lies Satan tells us is that we are not qualified to reach out. This lie seems to be prevalent among introverts. When people who would identify more with introverted characteristics think of evangelism, they mainly think of people who have characteristics of an extrovert. This lie permeates in their mind, and it is easy for introverts to say, “Outreach/evangelism is just not for me….that is for extraverted people who like that kind of stuff” This; however, can not be further from the truth and church leaders need to start designing outreaches so that introverts and extroverts can equally thrive in evangelism.

Let’s start with this: Evangelism is a very scary word! In fact 90% of Christians dislike the word evangelism. This i believe is because we have the wrong view and definition of what Evangelism is. We think of Evangelism as either a preacher traveling around spitting out Fire and Brimstone to a congregation or we think of the crazies that stand on street corners and yell at people to get saved. I like to define Evangelism as this:

Evangelism = Anything that you say and do that draws not yet believers to Christ

Lets remember that Jesus told us that No one can come to Him, except those who God draws (john 6:44). This automatically takes the responsibility off of us and on God to draw people to Christ. However, with that said, God uses us as tools to reach people with the Gospel and no one is exempt from that calling. Now we can understand it is not us who saves people, but it is God who uses us in evangelism (anything that is said and done that draws not yet believers to Christ) to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Keeping this in mind and having a revamped definition of what evangelism is, it opens the door for everyone to have endless opportunities and ideas for us to reach out and evangelize our community. We believe that through serving people with no strings attached just to let them know that God loves them is an extremely effective way for God to use us to draw people to Christ. Furthermore the idea of serving speaks to and motivates introverts. The same study that found that 90% of Christians disliked the word evangelism found that 90% of Christians like the word and idea of serving. So lets combine the two!

What i mean by this, is that you should design outreaches where there are those on your team who serve without speaking, and those on your team who are up front, telling people that you are serving them with no strings attached because that is what Jesus would do today. For instance when we go to businesses to wash windows only a few people out of a team of 10-15 will go and tell the business owners that we are washing windows to display God’s love in a practical way with no strings attached. When the store agrees to let us wash their widows, the entire team gets washing and when finished the same few people go in and give the person they spoke with an outreach card and offer to say a quick 10 second prayer with them. Everyone else on the team played an important part in allowing the “few” to speak and pray with people by simply washing the windows of the business.

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This is something that we have found introverts identify with and thrive in: Evangelizing and reaching out through serving!

The pictures below of a free leaf raking team are a great example of this. Notice that everyone is simply serving by leaf raking, while one person took the time to speak, reach out, and pray with the homeowner of the yard that the team was leaf raking.

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The truth is that God wants and can use anyone no matter who they are, what their age is, or if they identify as an introvert or extrovert. In fact we have seen God grow people from almost vomiting at the idea of sharing Christ with others into being bold Gospel presenters that I trust to share Christ with anyone in any situation. Don’t push your introverts too fast. Give them a towel and some window cleaner, or a rake and some bags and let them know they are a valuable tool that God can use even if they are not speaking or praying with people. I will guarantee you they will grow in their boldness through serving others!

Next week i will write about which outreaches are best for introverts to serve on.

With the changing of the seasons you have to be willing to adapt your kindness outreaches. It would be silly of course to continue to do your summer outreaches in the winter. Can you imagine a free car wash in 30 degree weather? The warmth of Spring and Summer allows many creative outreaches to be done; however the chill of fall and winter bring opportunities to reach out to people in different ways as well. Here are 3 great cold weather outreaches:

#1 Free Leaf Raking

Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When we do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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# 2 Winter Survival Kit Giveaway

I remember never being prepared for winter. When my lips became chapped, i developed a cough, and my nose was running like a raging river, i was left to fend for myself or use whatever i had laying around the house (wiping your nose over and over again with paper towels hurt!) This outreach gives people tools to be prepared for the cold! It also shows that you, as a Christian, truly care for the people you are serving in a simple and practical way.

These Winter Survival kits consist of 1 snack sized bag, several cough drops, facial tissue, chap stick, and a connection card (See Below). They cost around $1 to put together and are a great way to love your community in truly a practical way. Try passing them out at college apartments/dorms, downtown areas, businesses, and low income housing. We have had many people tell us they use the kits when they become sick! We met The family in the pic below on one of these outreaches and they started attending our church almost every week before they recently moved.

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#3 Free Laundry Day

On this kindness outreach you get to be out of the cold weather and inside a warm laundry mat! Have a team of about 5-8 people go to a local laundry mat with rolls of quarters and tell people as they walk in that you are showing them that Jesus loves them today by paying for everyone’s laundry that comes in! This outreach is great for making deep connections with people since you can sit and talk with them while their laundry is being washed.

We usually bring coloring books for kids and donuts for everyone to make their laundry experience as enjoyable as we can!

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There are a ton of outreaches you can do when it gets cold: pass out hot chocolate, buy everyone’s starbucks as they come in the store, shovel snow off people’s drive and walk ways, take people’s trash out at apartments, etc. God always moves in people when they step out and serve others in His name. We have found when the weather is dicey and people do not expect us to be out serving, God uses the unexpected service to draw people to Jesus!

In a nation that seems to be trying to kill prayer in public places it is becoming daunting for a christian to ask to pray for someone that they do not know it a public place. I feel like if you have ever served anyone in any fashion there has been a sense from the Spirit of God to want to pray for that person. After we get that sense of needing to pray for that person we sit there and battle back and forth if it is appropriate, if it would be awkward, or if this as a God ordained feeling. Sometimes we do take the step forward and we say, ” Is there anything I can pray for you about?” most of the time the people will say, “No, everything is great.” Sometimes people will open up if you ask this way, but in our outreach experiences for the most part people are reluctant to open up for you to pray for them about specific struggles in their life… especially if you are in a public place like a restaurant or gas station, etc.

Enter the 10 second prayer. A pastor named Steve Sjogren has been serving people in practical ways for over 30 years and he claims to have never been turned down when he asks to pray for the people he is serving, but he does it a bit differently. Steve, after getting done washing toilets, raking leaves, passing out soda, etc. will say, “Do you mind if i pray a 10 second prayer with you?” The people always say yes to this request and then he asks if there is anything specific that he can pray for. If they tell him specifics he prays (with his hand on their shoulder) for no more than 10 seconds for God to meet their requests. If they do not have anything specific he thanks God for letting him meet that person and asks God to bless them in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Spirit.

This way for praying for people has revolutionized the way that we pray for people on our outreaches. A few weeks ago we were putting on a free gift wrapping outreach and a man was sharing with one of our servers named Ashley that his daughter (who was not beside him at the time) has had kind of a tough Christmas season because it was the 5th year anniversary of her husband who had tragically passed away in a car wreck. Ashley finished up wrapping their gifts and asked, “Can I say a 10 second prayer for you?” The father and the daughter who had just walked up agreed, but they did not ask for anything specific to be prayed for. The father, daughter, and Ashley huddled together in the middle of a shopping store and Ashley prayed a quick 10 second prayer and was done. The family walked off with their presents in hand and with tears in their eyes. We got back to work wrapping and about 10 minutes later the father came back in and gave Ashley a big hug and told her how much it meant to their family that she prayed for them. This was a special moment that God’s spirit moved in a 10 second time period to comfort someone through their struggles. Since I have been asking people if I can say a 10 second prayer for them no one has turned me down and God has moved through simple words for 10 seconds in spectacular ways.

Tomorrow we are going to be serving people in a practical way by raking their yards for free and telling them that Jesus loves them. We will hand them a card that says ” We hope this small gift brightens your day. There are no strings attached. We just want to let you know God loves you.” After we are done raking we will send one or two people back to the door and ask them to say a 10 second prayer with them.

Come serve with us, no matter how comfortable you are with talking with people there will be something for you to do. Raking leaves does not require much skill or an outgoing personality, but we have asked God to pack our rakes and our bags with his kindness that leads to repentance. We are meeting at the Weatherford Public Library @ 10am and will be done by 12pm. Hope to see you there!