Theresa Hoeft is guest blogging at Tony Morgan's blog. She has a great post about watching as some friends visit her church for the first time, and the question that was the foundation for everything they thought about the church.
I remember the first time I walked into the Dayton Vineyard. I was overwhelmed by the size (at more than 2,300 people a weekend), but I was overwhelmed by the smallness (it doesn't seem that big). The casual atmosphere, the great worship band, and even better coffee was definitely a mark in the plus column. The Children's Ministry was great and very focused on helping kids experience God in their own way.
But the thing I remember most was knowing, without having to ask, what this church was about. I knew they were about serving the poor and broken and reaching the lost.
Servant Evangelism is a foundation for what they do. Wrong motives can follow anything. Serving to make myself look better is wrong. Serving to grow my church bigger is wrong. But the thing that attracted me most was the fact that serving was meant to show God's love to others; nothing more. Our evangelism pastor calls it Visibility Evangelism. It could be considered marketing (but we all know that term sometimes has negative connotations). If you boil it down, it is marketing, but I think his term is an attempt to demonstrate that for us it is more than marketing. We are attempting to change the world by demonstrating God's love for people through very practical means, and people don't know you are there unless they are told.
People who use Servant Evangelism will tell you that very few people come to your church because of Servant Evangelism, but everyone comes to your church because of Servant Evangelism. In other words, there will be the occasional person who comes because you gave them a cold drink on a street corner, but they are few and far between. But most people come because they recognize that the church is focused on serving others, that it is not focused on itself, and because they recognize the change that comes over a person's life while they are serving. (Read the FAQ page for Servant Evangelism to get a better understanding of the why.)
If you come to the church, you know where the money is going. It is going to reach lost people, and it is going to serve the poor and hurting. You don't have to wonder.