WorOutw 08-09-132 

The Outward Focused Life

Becoming a Servant in a Serve-Me World


Dave Workman

BakerBooks, 2008, 189 pp., ISBN 978-0-8010-7150-8




Dave Workman pastors Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, a growing church of 6000 weekend attendees that is well known for its outward-focused message and ministry.  The book is a compilation of radio spots promoting and describing stories and small ideas about outward-focused living, showing God's love by serving others in simple and practical ways.  Dave encourages us to find something to do for someone else and tell them God loves them. 


Prediction: "Churches in America will become known less for their styles…and more for the way they serve.  Servanthood will be the defining characteristic of people who are followers of Jesus." (12)


"I wonder what would happen if we saw the church's primary duty as serving lost people." (17)


Biblical model.  He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.  He died a criminal's death on a cross.  (Phil. 2:5-8) (18)


"Jesus knew where he had come from, where he was going, and why he was here.  When you know that, you're free to be anything, to take on the lowliest job without concern."  "That makes you free to serve in the lowliest, smallest way, knowing you are already a child of a great king." (22)


"If the word love has become so misused and abused, what if we exchanged it with the word serve instead?"  "Try it for a week." (23)


"Author Henry Blackaby puts it like this: 'What is God's will for my life?' is not the best question to ask.  I think the right question is simply, 'What is God's will?'  Once I know God's will, then I can adjust my life to Him and His purpose.'"   This is "a complete shift from an inward focus to an outward one." (25)


"We often talk about the sacrifice of Jesus.  I believe he simply loved his Father more than he loved his own life.  Loving God will cost you something.  Love is never cheap, whether it's love for God, love for people, or even love of an ideal." (40)


"It's in the routine, not the big heroic moments, that our true character is exposed." (43)


"I find it interesting when people say, 'Wouldn't it be great if so-and-so became a Christian--they are so talented.'  God doesn't need talent.  He doesn't need slick salesmen.  He just needs people who say, 'I am willing.'  He's looking for availability."  (50)


"Recently there was a psychic fair in our city's convention center.  Psychics, mediums, alternative healers, and others set up booths to sell and promote their stuff and charge for their services.  Sometimes in these types of situations, Christians protest with bullhorns, telling people they're going to hell.  We agree that the Bible says mediums and divination are not kosher, but we took a different approach: we got a booth inside.  Karin Maney and Kande Wilson, directors of prayer and evangelism respectively, joined forces and arranged to get a booth in the fair with a cool banner that said 'Healing Prayer and Dream Interpretation.'" (56)


"Often it seems a lot of evangelism training is focused on knowing all the answers to every possible question…."  " A simple 'Gee, I don't know…' goes a long way toward building relationships that hopefully will allow me to speak the grace and truth of Jesus into someone's heart."  "I've been wondering lately how all my conversations would shift if I had no agenda other than being used by God in a servant manner to listen--a no-strings-attached approach.  What a change that would make in my conversations!" (60)


"Submission means that our personal agendas, our personal missions, and what we want out of life have to be under God's mission.  The prefix sub means 'under.'  Our desires, our mission, have to be under God's." (61)


When my kids get home from school I ask them two questions: "First, what was the best thing that happened to you?  And second, what did you do to help someone today?" (63)


"There is power in generosity, a power to live above the scratching and clawing of this world.  Generosity is the ultimate evidence of a person who is really free." (70)


"…religion can be calculated and measured; Jesus is extravagant."  (82)


"I think the beauty of trying a few simple, outward-focused acts is that they reflect God's abundant generosity." (82)


"Do I live my life in such a way that there is never a day when I think that what I'm doing doesn't matter?"  "…we are engaged in a great spiritual war for the souls of men and women.  God, keep me outwardly focused." (90)


"I think developing an outward focus to life will do more for inward transformation than perhaps anything else." (92)


"Part of my problem for years was that I was afraid of the poor--afraid I wouldn't say the right thing, afraid they would be really different from me, afraid I wouldn't know what to do, afraid I might get sucked into a black hole of time and energy, afraid I might get ripped off." (98) 


"Hospitality in Greek is 'love of strangers.'"  "I wonder what would happen if once a month you asked someone from your work or school or neighborhood to have dinner with your family or friends.  Some of you are dripping with the gift of hospitality but have never recognized that as a power tool from God.  Be creative with your gift!  I love the Message's version of Romans 12:13: 'Be inventive in hospitality.'" (109)


"Another easy way of serving is to practice courtesy." (109)


"Unforgiveness is a prison with the lock on our side and the key in our hand." (119)


"Often people in our church go out in teams and do free things for people just to serve them--anything from a car wash to a bottle of water to cleaning restrooms for area businesses." (127)


"There is probably nothing more unnatural than serving lost people with no strings attached in this me-first culture.  Service is a prevailing weapon for the church that expresses grace--that ultimate spoiler of satanic strategies--in a simple but dramatic way.  Try it yourself; you may experience a fair amount of spiritual warfare the first time you initiate some simple service outreaches in your church.  And don’t say I didn't tell you it may get messy." (130)


"Sometimes I see an us-against-them mentality creep into the church.  In that mode, all of the world is in two camps, and we can never have any interaction with people outside of our camp.  'They' are all wrong.  And so the church takes on a siege mentality and becomes a fortress rather than a force in the world.  Perhaps a healthier approach to expressing God's heart to those 'outside' is by serving them.  It's not us against them; it's us serving them." (135)


"Sweat the small stuff….  The big stuff is out of your control anyway."  "It's more the little things that slowly turn us into someone we don't like." (160)


"Let's dream big.  Let's make big plans.  But let's begin by doing something, no matter how small." (161)


"My goal in life is to learn how to be a servant.  …my next goal is to help other believers to become servants." (163)


"Servant evangelism isn't about growing a big church; it's just about serving people--especially those who don't yet know Jesus--in some small practical way.  Period."  (165)


"Don't get tired of helping others.  You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don't give up" (Gal. 6:9 CEV) (165)


"The great virtues are a rare occurrence; the ministry of small things is a daily service.  Large tasks require great sacrifice for a moment; small things require constant sacrifice." (168, quoting Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline)


"I've discovered a simple way to serve those who are closest to you.  And if you're a guy and married, this is one of the best things you can do: try listening." (170)


"I am just beginning to experience the joy of being outward focused.  The truth is, when I'm focusing on somebody else, I don't have the time to think about all the things I worry about all day…and that is a huge gift to me." (175, quoting a letter received by the author)


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