Servant Evangelism

Servant evangelism is popular among many churches today. In doing servant evangelism, they go out and serve others or do kind deeds for others in order to demonstrate God’s love. While serving others is great and doing kind deeds for others is great, it is not evangelism. Evangelism is preaching the gospel. I have yet to read one account of someone who practices servant evangelism actually preaching the gospel of Christ. In fact, servant evangelism does nothing to demonstrate God’s love. Let’s see in the Bible how God showed us his love:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten SonJohn 3:16

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us. 1 John 3:16

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Have you noticed the common theme? God’s love is shown to us in the death of his son for our sins. God’s love is not manifested when we serve others but never preach the gospel to them. If we want to share God’s love with someone, tell how God gave his son to die on the cross for our sins.

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25 Responses to “Servant Evangelism”


  1. I think you have a few misconceptions about Servant Evangelism. It may, on the surface, appear to be fruitless because we are not proclaiming the “gospel” of Jesus Christ with our words. However, servant evangelism demonstrates the “gospel of grace” with our actions. See these commands from Jesus to serve (Matthew 20:24-28, Mark 9:33-35, Mark 10:39-45, Luke 22:24-30).

    Servant Evangelism, while it does not communicate enough truth to save someone, does reveal the recipients heart. You see, when I offer someone a free Coke and they turn it down, I ask why. I found out that some (but not all) are too proud to receive something for free. They feel like they need to pay for it because they don’t want to receive charity. If I went around selling pop for 5 cents, I’d have swarms of people around me. There’s something about giving it away for free that makes some people uncomfortable. After I insist that I absolutely do not want their money, some are bold enough to just receive kindness despite their many reservations. Quite honestly, it’s a breakthrough for that person when we see them lower their guard and receive a free gift.

    Servant Evangelism, from the perspective of the servant, is very humbling. Have you ever just gone up to several local gas stations and offered to clean their toilets? It’s gross and in some ways dishonorable. There is no honor from the world if you clean a toilet, but we will receive honor from God because he sees everything we do.

    Servant Evangelism, again from the perspective of the servant, is an eye opening experience when we throw ourselves into lower class parts of town. We witness the utter brokenness of people’s lives and it gives us an appreciation for God’s blessing on our lives and it compels us to give up two hours of our precious time on a Saturday morning to love people who have been discarded by our society.

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve gone through the entire Way of the Master series and I believe their evangelistic message is powerful and biblical. I also understand the urgency to seek and save the lost because they’re dying every minute. However, I am coming to a point in my understanding that there is more to evangelism than just giving them a terrific evangelical message.

    One of the staples of the Way of the Master teaching is based on this passage:
    1 Corinthians 2:1-3
    “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words…”

    The point is that we should avoid intellectual arguments (i.e. man’s wisdom) and stick to an evangelical message that is reasonable to everyone. I agree! Ray Comfort covers the first part of this passage nicely. However, he has not embraced the last part of this passage:
    “… but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

    A demonstration of the Spirit’s power? You see, there is more to evangelism than just the message! We can be robots and give the same message to thousands of people, or we can demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit? How might we do that? What did Jesus do?…

    – Restored sight to the blind
    – Cast out demons and evil spirits
    – Healed sick people
    – Made the lame walk
    – Received specific knowledge about people
    – Cleansed lepers
    – Restored hearing to the deaf
    – Raised the dead
    – Calmed storms
    – Walked on water
    – Made a fig tree wither
    – Fed thousands with very little food
    – Gave prophetic words

    Jesus knew how to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit! Jesus has called us to advance his kingdom by doing these things and even greater things by the power of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine going up to an atheist and proclaiming the kingdom of God and then demonstrating the power of God’s kingdom? I don’t think you’ll get much argument from him if he sees God’s glory with his own eyes. That’s really what all “atheists” want… PROOF!

  2. Brian, I think you missed the point of the post. Evangelism is proclaiming the gospel. Doing service for others is NOT proclaiming the gospel. Doing service for others is also NOT showing God’s love. God’s love is shown in the death of his son for our sins. It is false to call doing service for others evangelism and it is false to say doing service for others is a demonstration of God’s love.

    Jesus’ miracles have nothing to do with cleaning toilets or giving away Cokes.

    Service is great – but you have not shown that service is how people are led to Christ.

    For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
    1 Corinthians 1:21

    What are we commanded to do to reach the lost?
    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
    Matthew 28:19-20

    And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
    Mark 16:15

    But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
    Acts 1:8

    A witness is someone who with his mouth gives testimony to something. If you are not preaching the gospel in words (which you admit in your first paragraph), you are being disobedient to the Lord’s command.

  3. Giving one’s life is most certainly the greatest single act of love. However, there is more to love than just dying for another person. Let’s not forget when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. John made it VERY clear in John 13:1, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

    Jesus proceeds to wash the feet of his disciples. Peter initially resists because he was too proud to just have his feet washed. How could this be “full extent of his love”? There is something more to love than dying, it’s becoming the LEAST!!! That’s what God did, he sent his son Jesus to become the very least. He sent Jesus to be rejected and to be scorned by men. The God placed all of our sins upon him and was cruicified to become the perfect passover lamb as atonement our sins.

    In becoming the very least, Jesus became the greatest in the kingdom of God. Paul understood this and he poured out his life to become a slave/servant of Jesus Christ. He kept saying, “I am the least of the apostles” or “I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 15:9, 2 Corinthians 12:11, Ephesians 3:8). When we become the least and servant of all, we are expressing the full extent of the love of Jesus Christ.

    I’ll address some of your other comments when I have more time.

  4. The greatest love defined:
    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
    John 15:13

    You confuse the love Jesus had for his own (those who are already saved) and his service for them with God’s love for the lost (expressed by the giving of his son to die for our sins).

  5. John 5:19-23
    I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

    The love of Jesus Christ and the Love of God are one in the same. The Son can only do what he sees the Father doing. That means when we see the Son do something, it’s also what the Father is doing. When we serve others, we’re honoring Jesus and consequently honoring the Father. When we don’t serve others, we are not honoring the Son and not honoring the Father.

  6. Again, you missed the point. Serving others is great and we should be servants. However, Jesus also told people to repent. If you are just serving but not delivering the message that God’s wrath abides on them, you are not pleasing the Father.

  7. I scanned the Bible and I can only find three areas in which a servant did something that was not pleasing and was called a “wicked servant”:
    1) The unmerciful servant who abused the mercy and freedom that was given to him when he neglected to show others mercy and beat them. (Matthew 18)
    2) The servant who said, “my master is staying away a long time” so he begins to beat his fellow servants. (Matthew 24)
    3) The servant who buried his treasure instead of using it to acquire more treasures for his master. (Matthew 25)

    Really, the issue of pleasing the Father/Son boils down to being obedient, faithfully using the gifts that have been given to us, and being merciful.

    True, Jesus did call us to go into the world and make disciples. We must be obedient to his command. Don’t you think there is some flexibility in using all the gifts of the spirit to bring others to Christ? For instance, Words of wisdom/knowledge, prophecy, healing, helps, hospitality, teaching, pastoring, discernment of spirits, casting out demons, and other signs and wonders can be very effective in the proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom of God.

  8. Again, serving is great, but faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. If you serve without preaching the gospel, it is to no avail.

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
    Matthew 7:22-23

    These people did many wonderful works in the name of God, yet they are condemned.

    Nobody is ever saved without hearing the preaching of the word of God.

  9. Outwardly judging the work of the Holy Spirit and associating it with the devil’s work is NOT advisable. The teachers of the law accused Jesus of performing these miracles under the power of an evil spirit, Jesus responded, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:30-32)

    I cannot fathom the meaning of this passage (and the others related to it). One thing I can derive from this passage is the Holy Spirit does not like being spoken against. If someone is operating within their giftings of the Holy Spirit, don’t speak against it! Bless it! Don’t judge it and don’t question anyone’s motives. Let Jesus separate the tares from the wheat. We know HIS judgement is never wrong. See what Jesus said to his disciples when they asked the exact same question in Luke 9:46-50:

    An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”

    “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

    “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

    Gordy, everyone who does Servant Evangelism in the name of Jesus is for you, not against you! Don’t stop it, don’t speak against it, and don’t rebuke it.

  10. Were those who were condemned in Matthew 7 in spite of doing many wonderful works in his name for me as well?

    Should we never rebuke error?

  11. Read carefully to what Jesus says in Matthew 7, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    I = Jesus Christ

    When Jesus comes back to judge the world, HE will issue HIS righteous judgement. Matthew 7:1-2 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

  12. But according to your logic in your earlier comment, those who work iniquity in Matthew 7 are for me.

    Should we ever rebuke error?

  13. I’m not following, to what logic are you referring?

  14. You said:
    Gordy, everyone who does Servant Evangelism in the name of Jesus is for you, not against you! Don’t stop it, don’t speak against it, and don’t rebuke it.

    I pointed you to those in Matthew 7 who do many wonderful works in his name, yet Jesus says they are workers of iniquity. Therefore, according to what you said, those workers of iniquity are for me.

    Should we ever rebuke error?

  15. You may have misread what I wrote. Jesus is taking the responsibility upon himself to judge. I = Jesus Christ was saying that where the passage says, “I” or “me” it’s really saying “Jesus Christ”

    Matthew 7: “And then will [I, Jesus Christ] profess unto them, [I, Jesus Christ] never knew you: depart from [me, Jesus Christ], ye that work iniquity.”

    Jesus wasn’t rebuking in this passage, he was letting his disciples know that this is what his final judgement will be for evildoers when he returns. Luke 13:22-30 illuminates this teaching very well:

    Luke 13:22-30
    22Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
    He said to them, 24″Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
    “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

    26″Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

    27″But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

    28″There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

  16. I didn’t misread. I understand that it is him that is judging at that time. My point is you say those who are doing servant evangelism are doing it in his name; those in Matthew 7 who do many wonderful works are doing them in his name. If Jesus calls those in Matthew 7 workers of iniquity, is it possible those two groups of people are one and the same? After all, they are both doing many wonderful works in his name. If so, then aren’t you saying that workers of iniquity are for me and not against me?

    Also, you never answered this: should we ever rebuke error?

  17. Ouch, there you go associating Servant Evangelism with the workers of iniquity. Workers of iniquity are those who have no relationship with Jesus Christ. They will do things in “Jesus’ name”, they consider themselves saved, but they never entered into an abiding relationship with Jesus. They have relied on their works to save them and works without faith will save no one.

    I think a distinguishing factor between workers of iniquity and those who do authentic works from the power and authority of the Holy Spirit is “LOVE”. We know that God is love. When we receive His mercy, love, and forgiveness we become dispensers of the mercy, love, and forgiveness we have freely received. If someone is doing something in the name of Jesus out of his love and compassion for God and for his neighbor, he should never be rebuked.

    In the case of Luke 9:46-50 when Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Jesus was focusing his disciples’ attention toward the bigger picture. Even though this person (who cast out demons in the name of Jesus) was not an immediate disciple of Jesus, he should not be invalidated. Jesus made no judgment because there was reason to presume he was a worker of iniquity! When we see people doing things in the name of Jesus, should we quickly judge it, criticize it, or rebuke it? Of course not! Only a fool would judge the work of Holy Spirit.

    Now to address your question about rebuking. We need definite grounds to rebuke. In the case of Luke 9:46-50, Jesus made it pretty clear that we need to have some measure of tolerance and openness. The disciples may very well have hindered the work of the Holy Spirit. Suppose those disciples came across a different person who prophesied in the name of Jesus and they discovered he had some very heretical teachings or lived very openly sinful lives and encouraged others to do the same. First, we gently try to restore the person and help them come to a place of repentance. If they persist or increase in their sin to the point of causing others to stumble, then THOSE PEOPLE are against you. It’s time to rebuke.

    Gordy, think about your ministry on this blog. Are you rebuking the right people? Are you rebuking in a way that is glorifying to God? Are you edifying the church? Are you being judgmental when you should show a little bit more mercy?

    I see that you have a passion for pursuing the truth, but in my opinion, your pursuit for truth needs to be approached with a little more humility.

  18. I didn’t associate them – I asked a question if they were one and the same – in other words, how are we supposed to tell the difference between groups of people who say they are doing things in his name to which you provided an answer. History is littered with people who have done things all in the name of the Lord and some of those things are clearly not godly works so we need to show some discernment in that area.

    You say we should rebuke those in error when they cause others to stumble in the work of the Holy Spirit. What is the work of the Holy Spirit? Is it not to convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? If you do not preach the gospel, are you not hindering the work of the Holy Spirit? Evangelism is preaching the gospel. You admitted you do not preach the gospel when doing Servant Evangelism. Doesn’t that mean “Servant Evangelism” is at least a misnomer and you should really just call it service or something else?

    And finally, everyone can do things with more humility. In order to help me, can you point me to specific instances where you believe I showed some pride?

  19. It sounds like you’re asking me: How I can judge and be correct 100% of the time. I really can’t help you with that one. The Holy Spirit can/will gift people with the ability to discern spirits. This gift is used to determine if someone is demonized. A team of people should be assembled to cast the demon out. This is a “gift” of the Spirit and it can’t be learned.

    I think you misunderstood me, I said that we should rebuke after we’ve tried to restore them gently. If someone persists in sin to the point of causing others to stumble, you have leaven in the dough and that issue needs to be resolved with a tremendous amount of discernment (I would defer that decision to a group of elders).

    In the case of Luke 9:46-50, you should never rebuke someone who does something in Jesus’ name (especially if you have no information about their background and beliefs). You’re running the risk rebuking the work of the Holy Spirit. That’s foolish.

    To address your question, “If you do not preach the gospel, are you not hindering the work of the Holy Spirit?” I am striving to become an empowered evangelical. I am listening for the voice of God, making every effort to remain obedient, and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to work through me. Try doing the Way of the Master message to a homeless person in a soup kitchen or to a single mother and her children at the grocery store check out line when she realizes she doesn’t have enough money for groceries. You might be surprised to find out that the Holy Spirit isn’t moving us to “convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” at that very moment. Many times the Holy Spirit is calling us to show compassion and mercy and love. Give the homeless man your coat and pay for the single mom’s groceries; “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4)

    It sounds like you don’t really have a problem with “Servant Evangelism” you just have a problem with the name. The fact that someone is calling it “Evangelism” bothers you because their definition doesn’t match your definition. You’re probably wishing Servants will someday stop associating their service with the word Evangelism. The only thing I have to say to you is “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1)

    Finally, to address you last question, “Can you point me to specific instances where you believe I showed some pride?” Gordy, I’m working on taking the beam out of my eye to worry about your mote. 🙂

  20. It’s not a personal definition of evangelism – it is the dictionary definition: preaching the gospel.

    The intent of my original post was not to put down those who give away Cokes for free. I have said many times I think serving others is great. The original intent was to encourage people to actually witness to people WHILE giving away the free Coke – if they truly want to show God’s love, tell them how God already demonstrated his love through the death of his son for our sins. I never said (nor does Ray Comfort) to ignore a person’s physical needs and just preach the gospel. Go ahead and take care of the person’s physical needs, but don’t ignore their spiritual needs. Would not someone be most receptive to the gospel at the time you meet his physical needs?

    We’ve been commanded to preach the gospel to every creature – we don’t need to wait for the Holy Spirit to move us – we’ve already been given our orders.

    As for humility and pride, you said:
    I see that you have a passion for pursuing the truth, but in my opinion, your pursuit for truth needs to be approached with a little more humility.

    That didn’t sound like a simple, general admonition. It seems you had something specific in mind.

  21. I never said your use of the word “Evangelism” was right or wrong. I said that others have a view that differs from your view. Quite honestly, Gordy, I would have never bothered to initiate this dialogue had you left out the following statement, “In fact, servant evangelism does nothing to demonstrate God’s love.” You quote every passage that refers to Christ’s death as a demonstration of God’s love.

    Christ’s death, unarguably, is the greatest act of God’s love, but there are more demonstrations of His love outside of the death of His Son for our sins. I could sit down for hours compiling a mosaic of verses to illustrate this fact.

  22. Please do so, but please do not confuse the love Christians are supposed to demonstrate to others with the love that God demonstrates towards us.

  23. At the present moment, I’m afraid I do not have a compelling reason to spend that time.

  24. That’s too bad. I’m sure it would be valuable.

    Bottom line, then, is revealed in the first paragraph of your first comment:
    I think you have a few misconceptions about Servant Evangelism. It may, on the surface, appear to be fruitless because we are not proclaiming the “gospel” of Jesus Christ with our words. However, servant evangelism demonstrates the “gospel of grace” with our actions.

    Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
    Romans 10:14-15

    “Repent and trust Christ” is the only message that bears eternal fruit.

  25. Giving one’s life is most certainly the greatest single act of love. However, there is more to love than just dying for another person. Let’s not forget when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. John made it VERY clear in John 13:1, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

    Nothing like people twisting the Bible to make their extreme or one-sided views seem valid! The sad thing is their modern version actually teaches (in the quote above) some of what he is pushing: “he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

    The King James Bible says this:

    John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

    Jesus showed His love for the twelve apostles by still going to the cross when He knew that various of them would reject Him, betray Him, deny Him, and flee that night. This verse isn’t talking about showing His love to them at the last supper (though He did that to) – but by loving them by dying for their sins.

    Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    Thanks, Gordy, for showing that showing our love in evangelism is getting the Gospel out to the lost! Not by getting sidetracked with some sort of social (false) gospel. You can’t preach the Gospel without the Gospel being preached! God bless.


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