My Article at “Serve! with Steve Sjogren”


Serve! with Steve SjogrenI’ve known Steve Sjogren (author of Conspiracy of Kindness and The Day I Died) since 1989. He’s the visionary behind the resurgence in servant evangelism, reaching people for Christ by serving them first in Jesus’ name. Steve was my pastor for many years and is one of the bright spots in modern evangelicalism.

Steve recently asked me to contribute to his e-zine Serve! with Steve Sjogren. The topic is evangelizing the poor. As someone who served in food pantries and as a remodeler of burned-out brownstones in Cincinnati, I’ve been a part of servant evangelism to the poor, so I share my thoughts and experiences.

My article at Serve! with Steve Sjogren is below. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Cultivating a Heart for Evangelizing the Poor

If you’re looking for innovative ways to reach others for Jesus, consider subscribing to Steve’s site. He’s got great ideas and a wise stable of writers that can help you better fulfill the Great Commission.


Finding Yourself in the Gospel Story


Words of lifeOne of the realities God is impressing on me this year is the poor state of evangelism in this country. It’s as if Christians in America have forgotten the Great Commission, the mandate of our Lord to share the Gospel with the lost of the world.

More and more, I realize we modern Christians face have distanced ourselves from the story of the Gospel. It’s not that we don’t know the Gospel enough to share it. Most of us do. Instead, our problem is our inability to see ourselves as a part of that story.

A quick visit to any three Christian blogs will inevitably bring up mentions of the closed state of the canon. Some people, in fact, seem to base their entire theology on the fact of the closed canon rather than the person of the living Christ. Don’t get me wrong; there are no new books of the Bible being written. I fully support that the canon is closed.

However, I just as fully believe that God never stopped speaking. His voice continues to go out. That voice brings transformation because it is active, especially in the lives of those who learn the secret of abiding in Christ. Our God is a living entity who does not stand mute.

And this brings me to the Gospel.

What Jesus has done as evidenced by the Gospel is well known and indisputable. What I believe we tend to forget is what Jesus is still doing. He still changes lives. In this way, the Gospel perpetually lives, like a story continually being written—because the truth of the Gospel story has not come to an end.

We Christians today persist as an isolated, self-centered lot. Few of us see our individual lives as part of anything larger than ourselves, much less part of the narrative of God’s redemptive story. Yet our lives and what Jesus has done in them are no different than those of the patriarchs and saints of yore.  The reality of Jesus Christ meeting Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus centuries ago is no more valid that Jesus Christ meeting you or me on our own figurative Damascus road. We have our own Gospel story to tell, our own encounter with the Lord of the Universe, and our story matters to God as much as Saul of Tarsus’s does.

Because we have forgotten this, we have forfeited an important piece of what we share with the lost. Yet what is more powerful than telling a lost person our own story of how Jesus took us from darkness into light? We fret about somehow failing to string together the elements of the Romans Road, the Four Spiritual Laws, the Bridge Illustration, lessons from Evangelism Explosion, our Topical Memory System passages, or whatever evangelism technique we feel deficient in, when what God desires most from us is that we can share with another person what Jesus did for us in taking us from death to life. We may remember the Gospel, but we have failed to see ourselves in it.

Many out there feel the world is winding down, and it may be. It is not hard to see the day coming when no one can work. In light of this, I offer this word: You will never know the Scriptures perfectly unless you memorize the entire Bible, and by the time you do, you probably will not have had the chance to talk with anyone about Christ. What you can do, though, is use the Scriptures you do know in conjunction with your own story of how Jesus saved you.

Stories change lives. Your changed life is a story. All of this is wrapped up in the greatest story of all, the Gospel. If you are in Christ, you are living that story with every breath you take.

If that story matters to God, then I’m sure He wants you to share it with others. And there is no better time to share it than today.

To My Brother, MIA


When I was a kid, they built this suburban church near I-275 that rivaled the Colosseum in Rome. You could fit four of my church inside it. Every time we drove past, my folks would comment on how big it was. In my mind, it was as close as you could get in the 1970s to a genuine megachurch. Imagine a sea of cars on Sunday nights. Heck, we’d even watch them park cars on the church lawn. (Hey, there were no Sunday night services at the Lutheran church, so yeah, we were out and about.)

Funny thing is, I’m 45 years old now and have lived in the Greater Cincinnati area for most of my life, yet I’ve never met a single person who attends that church. The Christian world is impossibly small, and I swear that while the world has its six degrees of separation, for Christians it’s more like three.

Still, I’ve never met anyone from that church. Doesn’t that raise questions about that church’s ability to evangelize? If they aren’t getting out and meeting people, including a fellow brother like me, how will they ever lead anyone to Christ? What is it about them that they have no presence?

Here’s the deeper question: Where there was once life...What’s wrong with me that I’ve never encountered one of them? What’s that say about my presence in the community, my willingness to share Christ with someone new, even if that someone new turns out to be another brother in Christ?

You see, it’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

I drove past that church the other night, and it seemed small. And the more I stared at it, the longer I hunted for signs of life, the more it looked abandoned.