Reaching a Postmodern World through Servant Evangelism -- By: Alvin L. Reid

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 05:1 (Spring 2001)
Article: Reaching a Postmodern World through Servant Evangelism
Author: Alvin L. Reid

Reaching a Postmodern World through Servant Evangelism

Alvin L. Reid

Alvin L. Reid serves as Professsor of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his Ph.D. from Southwestern Seminary. Dr. Reid has an extensive speaking and writing ministry. His most recent book is entitled, Light the Fire: Raising up a Generation to Live Radically for Jesus.

In March of 1998 I visited a laundromat with a group of students. I spent about twenty dollars worth of quarters and left without washing any clothes. Those two hours are among the most delightful memories of my life. Perhaps you wonder how the words “delightful” and “laundromat” coincide. How could spending money in a laundromat, with nothing to show for it, produce delightful memories? While in the laundromat we spoke with the patrons, telling them that we were from a local Baptist church and that we would love to pay for their loads of laundry. Most could not believe that total strangers would pay for their wash. “Why?” some would ask. Our reply: “We are simply showing the love of Jesus in a practical way.” I walked up to a student named Lori, who was speaking with a lady named Linda. Linda had not attended church regularly for years. As we shared with her, she was amazed at the simple act of kindness we showed.

Perhaps in her case it was more than a simple act of kindness since she apparently had her entire family’s wardrobe with her! I can honestly say that it was the best ten dollars I have ever spent, for Linda joyfully opened her heart to the Lord, as did two other adults to whom we witnessed.

When going to the laundromat results in people meeting the Lord, you can see why such an experience can be a delight. Imagine how perplexed the Lord must be at his followers who consider “evangelism” and “wonderful experience” to be oxymoronic. Somehow the church in America has forgotten that when one shares the gospel, one is sharing good news. How can believers penetrate the unchurched, postmodern culture with this good news? Perhaps more importantly, how can we motivate believers to penetrate the unchurched world?

As we plunge headlong into a postmodern culture, the church must confront the changing times without changing the truth of the gospel. After years of training believers in personal evangelism, the most nagging question for me remains how to get believers who know how to share the gospel to share the gospel. No approach compares to the simple, practical strategy known as servant evangelism. Servant evangelism actually does two things: it mobilizes believers to witness, and it provides an effective way to share the timeless gospel in a timely manner.

We can face a rapidly changing...

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