Hi Friends! In “I Once Was Lost” (the evangelism book I wish I had 10 years ago, Christianity Today’s review here) Don Everts and Doug Schaupp, two Intervarsity staffers, teach us about five thresholds an unbelieving friend walks through on their path to Christ. In the second threshold “from complacency to curiosity” they invite us first, to listen to unbeliever’s questions, second, to share answers in balance to the level of their interest, third, to draw them straight to Jesus and now, fourth, live a life inviting curiosity.
And this, friends, is the story I was hoping you could hear. A huge thank you to Brian for sharing the good news bearing vision he’s caught!
Today I’m introducing the Anglican Deacon Brian Wolthuis and his story of on-the-ground Kingdom construction work. This is good news at its catchy best and is literally changing neighborhoods in Holland, MI. Renovation resurrection is occurring one house at a time, one landscape at a time, one commercial property, one heart at a time. Out of this service-based good news a church plant is blooming organically. It is relationship building right alongside drywall nailing and siding painting already 10 years strong. Brian and 360, the nonprofit he leads, shows us how. Before leaving, check out his website here and find out ways that you can be a part.
Now from Brian:
What if our life told a better story than our mouth?
What if the tangible effects of blessing emanating from our Christian body was powerful, creative, and magnetic?
What might our churches look like if proclaiming the gospel was a communal, lived call (in addition to an individual, spoken one)?— Would we need evangelism rallies and campaigns if our lives were overflowing with kindness and service to those around? What if those around us would be able to get a glimpse of our Father and what his family is like–by the way we loved, served, listened, created–within our actual communities?
The early church experienced a kind of growth, in the book of Acts, which many of us long to see. Evangelism proclamation was a kind-of “reporting” of what people saw, and heard God doing–the transformation that Christ was birthing, which caused a literal landslide of people being added to their number daily…many wanted to become part of that family! No recruiting or evangelistic tracts needed. Their apologetic was their life together, a demonstration of the Kingdom come. The body of Christ alive and well, living & serving together, is winsome and attractive! It powerfully points to the Kindness and Grace of our God—and draws those whose hearts are ready.
For the last 10 years my family and some friends have been living, serving, and staying within our neighborhood with the hope and prayer of demonstrating the Gospel with our lives and service to others. A Missional community some call it–Incarnation if you will–the incarnation of our lives (filled with the Grace and Spirit of God) into our actual community. From what I can tell, it is somewhat like St. Patrick and the Celtic pattern of living among, alongside.
Our experience has been that the practical service we do (construction, farming, landscaping, painting)—basically just helping neighbors…is prime opportunity/context for relationship with almost everyone. These “neutral” contexts and projects are safe for those who are indifferent (sometimes even hostile) towards the church. They build many bridges. In serving others and creatively collaborating for the betterment of our city, we collect around a common goal and are amazed at the conversations, questions, partnerships, and gifts that arise when we relax and serve together.
I believe that our western world is (for the most part) not in need of more Gospel information…but in need of witnessing the Gospel as a demonstration of communal life of love and witness. Our culture is crying out for examples of healthy families, for authenticity, to see lives transformed, to become part of a community that lives what they believe, together. Our world is saturated with good ideas and information, but perhaps, too vacant of communities of integrity, love, and service. It has been said that many will need to belong before they believe. I tend to agree. We are, in fact, calling people to a Way of life—the way of Christ, not just a way of right-belief.
These thoughts and questions have been part of our wrestling and imagination over the last 10 years as we have sought to faithfully “be” the church in our place…instead of “doing” church. Interestingly, we are just beginning to plant a Eucharistic congregation…after years of listening, community building, and serving together.
So, I ask: Do our neighborhoods and cities consider us a gift—a creative and generative community of kindness and service? What are we communicating about our God and His good news by the kind of neighbor, friend, co-worker we are?
The question is, am I good news?
This is part of our series: cross shaped evangelism. Catch the rest here.
Do you have a story of good news bearing you would like to tell? Fill out the rectangle to the right, “submit your work.” The Body of Christ always needs en-couraging.