Recently there has been an unprecedented move toward serving and expressing kindness around the globe. Oprah’s Big Give, American Idol Gives Back etc. Also, the church around the world is advancing the Kingdom through serving… love in action.
Kindness is revealed through action. Action does speak louder than-words.
A decade or so ago there were few early explorers who ventured into the arena of kindness expressed through serving. The Cincy Vineyard was a church who began a great experiment. They began to wonder what would and could happen if they began to serve their city in practical ways?
To their surprise the people of Cincinnati responded in a positive manner. Believers who had had enough of going through the motions of simply attending, listening, attending, listening, over and over… began to show up to play in the game. They discovered they could Find God, Find Friends, and Find a Job. They were provided with many opportunities to make a difference in their community through serving.
Some of the serving was stumbled upon by accident, or as people noticed need. The projects ranged from giving cold drinks to drivers on hot days, bags of groceries to the poor, cleaning windshields at filling stations, to handing out newspapers on street corners. The response was usually, Why are you doing this? The answer, ‘We are just showing you God’s love in a practical way.’
Out of this grand experiment a book titled Conspiracy of Kindness was penned by Steve Sjogren. It has continued to sell in large numbers. It has now sold over 200,000 copies. Yet, when the book first hit the book stores church leaders were intrigued, yet cautious.
The early adapters began to experiment within their context and the kindness movement began to spread. Now the kindness / serving movement is world wide. No longer contained to Cincinnati but as with any truth, spreading. The DNA is also morphing. Serving is now expressed in various ways within the context of a locality.
Here is a modified bell curve…
The Elites are that rare breed of people who are not only visionary but the are usually the odd change agents, the little off center people who know change must come and business cannot be continued as normal. They are the pioneers, those who constantly want to make a difference within their world. They often form the early models and lay DNA.
I’ve discovered that ‘creative elites’ are generational and each new ‘elite’ who emerges within a generation either improves upon a previous generations ideas or creates new models. It is interesting that some of the early elites of the the servant movement are now struggling with the new emerging elites who are continuing to develop, create new ideas and expand the serving DNA within their context.
The Visionaries are people who dream of what could be and begin to create what could be. They develop and spread an idea or concept. Some are practitioners who not only dream of what could be, but begin to practically create what could be. They experiment. They practice. They take risks. They do. They are the early discovery people. Who spearhead movements or a concept. Steve Sjogren, Dave Workman, Doug Roe, Robert Lewis, Mike Pilavachi are just a few of the Servant Leaders who began to dream and to establish serving communities.
The Engaged are forward thinking learners who know change must happen. They are looking for what could work within their context and begin to listen, gain knowledge and understanding and begin to implement and develop the idea / concept within the realm of their context.
People who are engaging the principles of serving their communities toward Christ are increasing. Many churches are becoming the engaged and are now serving their communities in remarkable ways. Rick Rusaw, and Eric Swanson and churches within The Externally Focused Network are some of the now engaged servant leaders.I believe we are at the middle, moving toward the right of the bell curve.
Pragmatists are usually the traditionalists. This group may slowly begin to understand the serving concept, yet they want to see if what works for others can really work for them. They are the cautious. Slow to adapt and to change. The need clarification and dialogue. However, once pragmatists click in and begin to play in the game they are usually the strong supporters, key leaders and givers.
One friend of mine was a pragmatist, resistant to the idea of serving with kindness as a way of connecting to his community. However, he was changed as he committed himself to experiment within his community. His positive heart change developed as he discovered his own personal significance through serving and now is one of the champions for the serving movement in his city.
Conservatives are a larger group, they understand some basic concepts, but they don’t like change especially in areas they don’t completely understand. ie. Some have declared, ‘Serving isn’t the gospel…it’s not what Jesus would do.’ ‘We’ve always done things this way’… etc.
If they don’t change they will most probably cease to exist. They are probably best thought of as the ‘somewhat slow off the mark people’. They are the late adopters and adapters.
A few years ago I spoke to the leaders of two main denominational conferences. Although intrigued by the serving message. It was too little too late. Average leaders age in both conferences was well above 45, few new church plants, and almost no young people, and many of their churches closing or being consolidated. These good people need to sense an urgency within their hearts and begin to see with new eyes. Change can be good.
Skeptics… change! what’s change? Somewhat negative an understatement. Resistant to new ideas and ways of doing things. It takes a long time for people viewing life with skeptical lenses to discover the joy of serving.
I’m encouraged by the serving movement that is on the incline around the world. I believe the best is yet to come…