Sunday, June 22, 2008


We just finished Summer of Service '08 here. SOS is a four day/five night serving-oriented experience for middle school and high school students. This year over 800 students came from all over the Midwest from sixty-five different churches and nearly twenty different denominations. Each day about twenty school buses would pull up and take students to eighty-five different outreach locations and for the next four hours students served in a myriad of ways, from painting murals in the inner city to giving free water bottles away at intersections to cleaning restrooms in businesses to framing four houses for Habitat for Humanity and on and on. Some special teams (The E2 Project) that were overseen by our prayer leaders prayed together for an hour and journaled any impressions or pictures they had. Then they put those together like a puzzle and took off in vans for some “treasure hunting”…with amazing results.

It takes about seven-hundred volunteers to make SOS work. It humbles me to learn that people take vacation time to serve the students. In the end, over 90,000 people were touched in Greater Cincinnati in some way.

In the mornings and evenings we blew the roof off with high-octane worship. To see hundreds of students worshiping Jesus and giving thanks for another day of serving is terrifically moving. We finished Friday night with nearly seventy baptisms.

How did we miss the power of servanthood in the Church? I’m convinced it will be the most attractive thing about the Church in America in years to come. Not our rightness. Not our politics. Not our arguments. Not our numbers. Not the volume of our voice.

Just servanthood.

I’m convinced this is a prophetic word from God.

I met with a guy at the Vineyard who grew up in a legalistic church background. He was shocked the first time he came. After a few weeks, he emailed me and wanted to grab a coffee. When we got together he said: “Dave, I feel like I’ve been born again again.”

I said, “Uh, I have no idea what that means.”

He went on to say that when he gets there at the 8:30 celebration, there’s hot coffee—and even decaffeinated—waiting for him that he can take into the auditorium and relax with. Then he said it hit him one morning: someone got up really early and made that to serve people who would be coming in. And then he noticed all the people serving others with smiles and then began to hear stories of simple outreaches of people serving others outside the walls. Then he totally shocked me when he said, “I just never put ‘the gospel’ and ‘serving others’. I never put together ‘church’ and ‘servanthood’. It’s changed my life…and now it’s all I see in the Bible—the servant-heart of God. I feel like I’ve been born again again.”

And that was just serving in the church. Think what happens when that’s turned totally outward. Beyond the walls.

Paul the apostle wrote to the church in Philippi and said, “Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a servant and appeared in human form. Philippians 2:5-7.

How did we miss that? How did we end up with a church in America that whines about its rights and what the man is taking away from them? Please.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Jesus…the God of the Universe.

Yeah. That God.


  1. YEAH! What a difference it makes when our vision is on helping others, however we do it. Amazing what He can do! Thanks for saying it all so clearly.

  2. Hey Dave - great post. My wife and I used to come out on Saturday nights when we were dating and serving in another church in the Cincy area - we fell in love with and were deeply impacted by the Vineyard's unwavering dedication to (rightly) putting service at the forefront of what the Kingdom of God is really all about.

    We're now serving as youth and worship ministers in a fairly traditional church in Northern Kentucky and it's amazing how so many people, just like you pointed out here, DO NOT CONNECT THE GOSPEL WITH SERVICE! We are fighting, begging, pleading, loving, and compelling people to see what we feel like was born in us over the course of a year on Saturday nights at the Vineyard - that the Kingdom comes when the Church is serving. Awesome.

    Keep up the great work! We hope to make it out soon.

    - Tim Blake

    PS - Great blog!

  3. my mom liked the youth worship band, she is 72. it kind of surprised me. The part about serving others in the abortion clinic was totally unexpected. The reason I mention it is because my mom next to me worked in that clinic for 20 years. I still remember all the stories about people who made her life a nightmare at that clinic. I am against abortion but when they served those people in there I could not help but get a few tears.

  4. Sunday made me a little jealous that I didn't have that sort of thing when I was in high school! That band was really something!

  5. ^you have good reasons to be jealous. :D
    i had the opportunity of being at SOS this year, and it was awesome. a very special shout out to everyone who made it happen.