Organic Outreach: Communicating God's love in Ordinary Ways

Organic Outreach: Communicating God's love in Ordinary Ways

by Kevin G. Harney


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Organic Outreach: Communicating God's love in Ordinary Ways by Kevin G. Harney

Fulfill One of Your Deepest Longings Every follower of Jesus has a sincere desire to share God’s love with others. We want to tell friends and family about who Jesus is, what he means to us, and all he has done for them. Deep in our hearts we have a burning passion to pass on the good news we have received. But, where do we start? We want to share our faith, but we don’t want it to feel awkward, uncomfortable, or unnatural … for them or for us! Organic Outreach for Ordinary People will help you shape a personal approach to passing on the good news of Jesus in natural ways. This is not a system or a program. It’s a collection of biblical practices that you can incorporate into your life starting today. You can begin right where God has placed you. You can share the love and message of Jesus in a way that fits exactly how God has wired you. In this practical and easy-to-read book, Kevin Harney offers the tools needed to reach out with God’s love in organic ways. In these pages you will discover that sharing the good news of Jesus can be as natural as talking about your favorite sports team or telling a friend about a wonderful new restaurant. On the golf course, over coffee, while taking a walk—anywhere and everywhere—become a bearer of grace. Share the amazing love of God. Tell the life-changing story of Jesus. Discover ordinary ways to communicate God’s love and the message of salvation—naturally.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310273950
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 06/28/2009
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 350,946
Product dimensions: 8.58(w) x 5.66(h) x 0.67(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kevin G. Harney ( serves at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. He is the author of many books and studies, including Organic Outreach for Ordinary People, Seismic Shifts, and Reckless Faith.

Read an Excerpt

Organic Outreach for Ordinary People

Sharing the Good News Naturally
By Kevin G. Harney


Copyright © 2009 Kevin G. Harney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-27395-0

Chapter One

The Law of LOVE

The starting point of effective outreach is not a system, a program, or a specific presentation. It is a heart deeply in love with God and with people. Without love, no outreach strategy will work. With God's love, we can change the world.

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." -Matthew 22:37-40

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." -John 3:16-17

One's life is usually about as wide as one's love. -Philip Hallie

There is a careless streak in love.... It is risky to put oneself out for another, to go out of one's way to help another person-when one is not sure of how todo it well. One may be misunderstood, deceived, hurt. We could flub our overtures of love and end up looking ridiculous. Moved by love, however, we overpower our fear and take the risk. -Lewis Smedes, Love within Limits

Sometimes I fiddle around with my wedding ring. I used to play with it more, but I have learned my lesson. For the most part. I was in a movie theater watching a show with some friends. I had taken my ring off. I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing as I moved the ring from finger to finger to thumb, using only one hand. (Try it sometime; it's not as easy as it sounds.)

At one point, while I was moving this precious circle of gold from my pointer finger to my thumb, it popped off and hit the floor. I heard cling, cling, and then silence. Then there was another clinging sound, then another. As best as I could figure, the ring had rolled two or three rows down from me.

Now understand, this is not an expensive ring. It has no diamonds. It's a simple gold band. But it's the ring my wife slipped onto my finger on the day we said, "I do." What it lacks in elegance and monetary value, it makes up for in personal significance.

So I slipped out of my chair, in the dark, and moved stealthily down three rows, beginning my search. Have you ever noticed that the floors in movie theaters can be a bit sticky?

I got down on my knees and slowly slid my hands across the floor. Inch by inch and foot by foot my palms slid across the area under the chairs. After about five minutes my hands were stickier than the floor and I still had not found my ring. I moved up a row and started the process all over again.

Thankfully there were no people in the seats as I went through the humbling process of ring searching. Again my hunt was fruitless. Then a thought flashed through my mind. Maybe the ring had slipped into one of the cracks between chairs! I had avoided these areas because they were even more repulsive than the floor. But since my search up to this point was fruitless, I readied my heart, prepared my hands, breathed through my mouth (and not my nose), and upped the ante. I dug between the chairs with my fingers.

I found all kinds of surprises, but no wedding ring.

Now you might wonder, "Why would you crawl on a theater floor and search between the chairs and all the debris and slime just for a ring?"

The answer is simple. The object of my search was so valuable to me that I would do whatever was needed to find it again. For me, the real value of the ring was not in the gold but in its significance as a sign of my love for my wife. That love mattered so much to me that I willingly pressed my fingers into the goop between the legs of the theater chairs.

Love Demands a Search

Love brought God from heaven to earth. Love moved Jesus to empty himself and take on human flesh. Love allowed nails to be driven into the hands and feet of the perfect and pure Son of God. God's love for broken and sinful people is one of the most amazing truths revealed in the Bible. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6-8).

God came searching for us, crawling on the slimy floors of this world. By taking on our sin, he got his hands dirtier than we possibly can know. For some mysterious reason, in God's heart we were worth the cost and humiliation of a search that led from glory to the horror of a Roman cross.

The God who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) invites us into this same mission. We are not called to make the conversion of unbelievers a project to check off on our list of religious duties. Instead, we are to love people with the love of God. When our hearts beat with the heart of the Father and when a passion for lost people rises up in us, we will be compelled to search and to do all we can to reach out to those who are lost in their sin and are far from God.

Understanding the Law of Love

What motivates us to do the work of evangelism and reach out to spiritually disconnected people?

The desire to carve another notch on our spiritual belts?

A deep sense of guilt or fear?

The need to fill up the seats in our worship center?

None of these are the right motivators.

Many things can drive us toward the work of outreach, but the greatest motivator of all should be love-love for God and love for people. First, our love for God shapes our hearts and makes us more like Jesus. The more we love God and see the world as Jesus does, the more we will move out into the harvest fields. If we want to see outreach become an authentic passion in our hearts, and if we desire to be propelled forward in sharing God's message of life-changing grace, we need to learn to love people the way Jesus does.

To those who asked him what matters most to God, Jesus replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matt. 22:37-40).

Loving God and loving others are the two big hooks on which everything hangs. When we think of evangelism, love must be our motivating factor. Jesus made it clear that love is our starting point for everything. Before anything else, organic outreach must be love-driven.

Do I Really Love This Person?

During the question-and-answer period at the end of a session I was leading at an evangelism conference, a man walked up to the microphone and said, "I am trying to reach out to a guy in my neighborhood, but I don't have much in common with him. The truth is, I don't really get along with him all that well." The man explained the tenuous nature of his relationship with his neighbor.

As I listened, I started to feel uncomfortable. This man seemed to see his neighbor as a project, a duty, another item on a spiritual to-do list. But the man was sincere, and I could sense that he really did want to make an impact on his neighbor, so when he finished painting a picture of their relationship, I asked if he would mind answering a question before I responded, and he agreed.

When the question popped out of my mouth, it surprised me, and I had the sense that it caught him off guard as well.

"Do you love him?"

I could tell that he wasn't sure what I meant. So I rephrased the question. "Do you really love your neighbor? Is that what motivates you to reach out to him?"

After a few moments, he answered with humble honesty. "I'm not sure."

What came out of my mouth next did not sound very sensitive, but I meant it with heartfelt sincerity: "I suggest you stay away from him and let someone else reach out to him." I explained that if reaching out was nothing more than a religious homework assignment to him, his neighbor would soon sense his lack of sincerity. His efforts could become counterproductive if they weren't motivated by love.

Since that day, I have reflected deeply on what motivates us to engage in evangelism. I recognize that our motives are never perfectly pure. I am also aware that God can use even wrong motives to accomplish his work of bringing the gospel to the world (Phil. 1:15-18). But the best and most effective driving force for evangelism is sincere love. When the love of God captures our hearts, we are moved by the tender compassion of Jesus. When we see people as lost sheep who need the Good Shepherd (Matt. 9:36), we will naturally reach out to them with hearts that overflow with God's love.

As we respond to the loving mercy and amazing grace of God, outreach happens naturally. When we are loved by God and are passionately in love with the Savior, we desire that others come to know the grace we have experienced.

When we are motivated by guilt or a sense of religious duty, or when lost people become our pet projects, something is wrong. The very people we seek to reach can end up repelled and driven away from the God who loves them. Loving people with God's love is magnetic, attracting people to Jesus. This is organic outreach: evangelism that flows from the love of God.


Excerpted from Organic Outreach for Ordinary People by Kevin G. Harney Copyright © 2009 by Kevin G. Harney. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11

Introduction: Organic Outreach for Ordinary People 13

Part 1 Preparing the Soil

Introduction 19

1 The Law of Love 21

2 Becoming Grace Bearers 31

3 Embracing the Bible and Truth 43

4 The One-Degree Rule 59

5 Everyone Plays 73

Part 2 Planting and Watering

Introduction 89

6 The Unseen Work: Praying for People 95

7 The Wonder of Encounter: Praying with People 111

8 Incarnational Living 125

9 Try Something 145

Part 3 Bearing Kingdom Fruit

Introduction 161

10 The Work of the Holy Spirit 167

11 Engaging in Spiritual Conversations 181

12 Telling Your Story 199

13 Sharing Good News 217

Notes 245

Recommended Resources 251

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Kevin Harney has written a winner---refreshing, engaging, practical, and powerful! Kevin has given us an everyday approach to loving and reaching people for Christ, while also helping us to enjoy the process.” -- Nancy Grisham

“Every person you meet is an eternal soul. That reality alone underscores the tremendous value of a book like this. Organic Outreach for Ordinary People will equip any believer to share their faith in effective and natural ways. Kevin presents practical illustrations to communicate with all kinds of people and in all kinds of situations. Reading this book will truly encourage you to raise your evangelistic temperature and passionately pursue that which causes angels to sing---even if you don’t have the ‘gift of evangelism.’” -- Marilyn Hontz

“Personal evangelism is not your thing? You don’t have the spiritual gift? The whole idea of sharing your faith seems intimidating and unnatural? Perfect---this book was written for you! Read it, and with every page you’ll be more encouraged and equipped to talk to others---in natural ways---about the things that matter most.” -- Mark Mittelberg

God spoke pointedly to my life when reading this inspiring book. It is refreshing to see a very practical book that is solidly grounded in Scripture. While being loaded with practical helps, it refrains from presenting a canned or stereotypical model of witness that everyone should follow. Instead, we see different ways of outreach, which individuals could adopt according to their differing personalities, gifts, and circumstances. This book is unique in being amazingly comprehensive, covering many issues that other books on witness miss out on. Clearly, it is the work of a practitioner.” -- Ajith Fernando

“Too many people think that evangelism is reserved for a handful of specially gifted people. Read this book and you will say, ‘I believe God can use anyone, including me, to reach out with his love and good news.’ Practical, well-illustrated, and biblical, this is a great tool to help prepare ordinary Christians to share the extraordinary message of Jesus.” -- Lee Strobel

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Organic Outreach: Communicating God's love in Ordinary Ways 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
KarlSchafer More than 1 year ago
Organic Outreach for Ordinary People is exactly that: organic and ordinary. It's down-to-earth life observations that ordinary people relate to about how to talk about Jesus in off-the-cuff, organic ways. While there may not be a plethora of new insight or information in this volume, that simplicity might be its value. Kevin G. Harney's remarks can be summed up this way: Simply be real and God will use you to reach others for Jesus. This reality requires minimal new information; it does require a new attitude. That's where Harney focuses his effort. In reaction to too many apprehensions, too many programs, and too many musings about evangelism, Harney advocates: Change your attitude to outreach and try it out. This volume is one in a line of reactionary books to the myriad evangelistic methods and programs in the 1970s-1990s. In response to the "task list to successful evangelism" approach, Harney offers an "attitude to effective outreach" approach. This book is about changing our spiritual attitudes to outreach and letting the tasks flow from there. While affecting the reader's spiritual attitudes dominates Organic Outreach, Harney does offer specific tools. He insightfully describes how to pray for neighbors, begin spiritual conversations, describe one's own faith, and recognize an opportunity to talk about Jesus. He also details several catchy "laws" and "rules", such as the Law of Love and the One-Degree Rule. Furthermore, these suggestions remain faithful to his organic approach to outreach: they are not contrived or awkward. The reader will likely be able to picture using them in his/her own situation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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