Sunday, August 27, 2006

Servant Evangelism

Brundage, Chris. "Viewpoint." Presbyweb. December 2, 2002.

Keywords: Incarnation, evangelism, Diana Ross, dance, love, good news

Steve Sjorgren is the pastor of a Vineyard Christian Church in Cincinnati, a congregation he started in 1985 with thirty-seven members. Today it numbers six thousand.

He focused on their program of servant evangelism. Members of his church go out into the community, giving flesh and bone to the gospel.

Once on Christmas Eve, a group of Vineyard church members walked into a Waffle House in Cincinnati. Some made their way to the back room, slipped on aprons and started washing dishes. Others went to the juke box, fed in a few dollars and began dancing to Diana Ross. They invited the startled patrons to join them.

Now Waffle House serves good food, comfort food, but it’s not exactly high on the hierarchy of restaurants, and it’s a depressing place to spend Christmas Eve, the night these dancers and dishwashers showed up. The smell of cheeseburgers and cigarettes doesn’t remind most people of the holidays.

But slowly folks began to shake off their inhibition. First one person joined in the dancing, then another. Soon the whole place was pulsating to "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough." Passing motorists slowed down and stared in amazement. The party continued for over an hour. Eventually the Vineyard Christians left to go home and be with their families.

A few days later Pastor Sjorgren received a phone call from a local psychiatrist: "Are you the church that was dancing at the Waffle House the other night?"

"Yes sir. Umm... we’re sorry."

"No, no. I think it’s great. Two of the people there were patients of mine. Usually during the holidays they slide into a deep depression. But not this year. You gave them something special."

Expanding on a theme from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the servant evangelists believe
"small things done with great love will change the world." They surely changed a little portion of the world by dancing at the Waffle House on Christmas Eve.

--Chris Brundage is a Presbyterian minister, and Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Adrian, Michigan

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