Creating God Space

What’s evangelism?

Much has been written, been theorized about and probably more talked about then actually done.

Recently, I spoke to a group of teens…I began by talking about a friend of mine who has been coming to the food pantry for breakfast and groceries for the past few months.

I first met him as he was waiting in line... we began to talk…
As the conversation continued he told me about his wife who was a gambler. In 1987 she blew through $18,000 in savings, began to use drugs and left him with two young boys. Devastated, he went to the place where he thought he could find some encouragement and support… his church.

He told the pastor his story, how he was left with two boys under 3 and needed some help.
The pastor told him, “We can’t help you now, but to come back in a month or so.” His comment, “I desperately needed help then, not in a month.” He left that day vowing, “I’ll never enter another church again.”

He then spoke of his ongoing struggle to work, feed, and care for his boys. During the summer he used a neighborhood garden to grow vegetables... fresh veggies in the summer and he canned the rest for winter. He worked hard, supported his kids, had the usual growing pains of boys becoming teenagers and developing into young men.

After, he spoke I paused, and asked him to forgive me, representing the church as a leader. I then asked if we could pray.

During the prayer, I asked God for forgiveness, and asked for grace to be to be given to his family, to bless them and for favor to rest upon them. He shook my hand and said, “Thanks, Steve.”

I then told the teens he’s now a friend and spoke about our continued relationship.

I mentioned that evangelism consists of being a friendly open-hearted person and how important it is to gently step into another persons space.

Once stepping into a person’s relational space we create God space… where God things can happen.

To illustrate I shared another story.

Crosby, Stills and Nash came to the outdoor Fraze Pavilion for a show. My wife, and a few friends headed up to have a picnic outside the pavilion and to listen to the music. It was a great night. Good food, drinking coke, singing with the crowd and enjoying our friends.

There are always interesting people like the hula hoop lady, the bike lady, the hippy dude, dogs of all sizes and shapes, kids with mom's and dad's who walk by our smorgasbord. Often the people comment on our spread of some pretty amazing food, “Man that’s what we should do.”

At one point a father with a small baby girl walked by. I noticed an attached tube to help the child receive meds or food. The father evidently was besotted with his little girl. At one point he introduced the child to another baby. They made faces at each other eye to eye, laughed and giggled…the connection baby to baby was amazing to watch.

A little while later the mom walked toward us carrying the child. I mentioned to a friend, “I think we need to pray for them.” When the duo came by I asked the mom, “What’s the baby’s name.” The mom replied, “Abigail.” I laughed and said, “Our third child was supposed to be an Abigail, but she ended up being a Nathan. I have a blond, brunette and Nathan has red hair.” The mom replied, “Oh, Abigail has red hair.”

I then asked what was wrong with Abigail. She told the story of the birth, things not right with Abby’s stomach, and how she was improving but still had a long way to go. I then mentioned I and my friend were pastors of the Vineyard and asked if we could pray for Abby.

She replied, “That would be great.” We prayed general, to specific prayers for the baby and prayed for the mom. I noticed that the mom was obviously being emotionally moved as we prayed.

It was ‘a God space moment’ Crosby, Stills and Nash were presenting a great show for the crowd, we were presenting a child with a great need, to a great God. At the end of the prayer we thanked the mom for allowing us to pray with her. She in turn thanked us smiled and continued her walk.

Again, seeing a need, then intentionally stepping into a person’s relational space is where God space can be created.

God space is where faith can begin to grow.

I told the teens. “That in a nutshell… is evangelism.” Be where you are. Notice needs. Ask good questions. Listen to their story. Take note of their need as they talk. If you have a story that relates to their life share it. Offer prayer. Usually, people respond in a positive way when they sense genuine love and care... no strings attached.

People are either moving toward Jesus or away from him. Our job is to seek, with gentleness and respect, to enter into a person’s life space.

We can then nudge people who have turned away from Jesus... to turn toward Him, or to nudge those who are moving toward Him... closer.

It’s not really that complicated. It just requires seeing eyes, hearing ears, and a willingness to respond and create space where faith can begin to dwell.

I’ve discovered that God is interested in the people within my sphere of influence. Once I’ve discovered and entered into a God moment He tends to show up. In His presence, there is life. We call it serving our way into the heart… Breaking down barriers, building bridges. Creating God space.

That’s why I enjoy practicing Servant Evangelism. Serving others creates God space. Giving Gatorade to skaters at the skate park on a hot day, or offering sun screen to people at a beach, or cold water at the Dayton Air Show, or serving breakfast at our food pantry helps create God moments where His life can be shared.

Back to School Backpack promo

this year we have 500 backpacks...We purchase them from Somebody Cares Tampa Bay. Daniel Bernard. is a friend who has been touching the lives of the less served of Tampa for many years. He began with little support now over 150 churches and businesses often join together for giant service projects. He is the real deal.

We attach a school supply list for each bag. We sell the backpacks for $5 just enough to remind people they have a backpack. Most of the time people out do themselves and fill the bag with other fun items. Some pen encouraging notes.

We gather the backpacks into a huge mound in the atrium at main entrance of our building. The buzz grows as the mound develops.

On a given date the Vineyard staff load up the back packs head up to Trotwood Schools and deliver the backpacks. The great thing...the teachers themselves head out into the community and give the backpacks away to the kids. Often the very kids they will be teaching. High impact, low cost...all in the name of Love.

Rocking my word

2 things rocked my world this week...
1. Two nights of CNN Black in America: insight into the lives of Black men and women in the USA.

Stats are shocking... I was moved to the core.

  • biggest killer of black women ages 25 to 34 HIV
  • 74% of all black children are born by single women and raised fatherless
  • 42% of all Homicides are black related even though the Black population is only 13% of our population. Most African Americans know someone personally who were violently killed.

2. Dave Workman's new book arrived ... The Outward Focused Life...the Intro was worth the price.

Here is part of the review...
In a world filled with YouTube, MySpace, Grand Theft Auto, and reality television shows, the idea that individuals might serve anyone but themselves is an anomaly. Yet, as Dave Workman, the senior pastor of Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, predicts in this sometimes humorous and sometimes simplistic book, churches in America will become known for their desire to serve others rather than for their self-centered focus on theology or denominational politics.

Daves intro comment '
churches in America will become known for their desire to serve others rather than for their self-centered focus on theology or denominational politics.'
is so right on...It is great to see this happening...

for whole review see

I'm in process mode...

Dayton Airshow...Baptisms

Water Everywhere: A great weekend this week. On Saturday we headed out to the Dayton Air Show locked and loaded with bottled water. We went to two locations... the 90 degree high humidity day made the outreach more than a success.

A shuttle shuttled people from the National Air force Museum a small team loaded with 600 bottles of water and 150 small packs of sun screen had a great time. Many people were especially grateful for the sunscreen.

The larger team, mainly of teens, headed to the air show parking lot... Many grateful people, many positive comments and high energy.

Baptism Weekend: This was also our Baptism weekend. We were scheduled to baptize 19 people spread out over the 3 services.

At the end of each service, and after the scheduled people were baptized, we simply asked, 'Is there anyone else who would like to be baptized?' 36 extra people responded and were baptized.

One family of 4 took the plunge...
There is something about people seeing other people being baptized that touches the heart. Several of the people who responded made positive commitments of faith and decided to follow Jesus.

Scott Slivers see: message was clear and to the point. Through Jesus people can have their hearts cleansed from a guilty conscience... Just as water cleans the body from contamination so also confession of our sin can cleanse our hearts.

Cool water to drink and clean water for baptism made for a great weekend.

Skate Boarding and Ice cream

This summer there have been two events at our premier Kettering Skate Park. DC shoes and a MTV Reality Show was sponsoring one event that drew hundreds of skaters to the park.

We decided to serve the crowds by providing ice cream. So we grabbed a few teens, a huge cooler, the ice cream, wooden spoons and our eye-popping connect card.

The teens went to the north, south, east west corner of the park and served the ice cream. It was a huge hit. The reality show film crew also were served. It was a great outreach. The buzz was buzzing.

Observation...Teens rather than adults doing the outreach was an instant connection. Questions like... Are you a skater? Why are you doing this? Who are you guys? What's up? Word. Were common. A great time showing God's love in a practical way.

Doing the outreach.
1. Purchase small cups of ice cream and wooden spoons from a local distributor
2. Grab some connect cards

3. Load frozen like a brick ice cream into a few coolers

4. Arrive at location

5. Announce we have free ice cream

6. Hand ice cream, wooden spoons, and connect card to skater

7. Have Big Fun

water everywhere

water everywhere...

Thursday the 3rd it rained...the city plans their fireworks always on the third. I think they know other townships plan for the 4th and hope that people from all over will attend. Each year we serve the people attending by giving away bottles of water. Usually, it take 1 to 2 hours to broadcast 10k bottles.

Our teens braved the weather on Friday the 4th and headed out to Delco Park. During the week I received a skid of squirt toys. So we decided to give them to the kids attending the Fireworks show. The toys were a huge hit and all the teens had a blast.

What do you do when you purchase 10,000 bottles of water, plan a team BBQ and outreach and it rains?

Plan for a summer blast. Each week we'll be heading out to different locations around the city for a water kindness in action outreach.