Book Review of "Conspiracy for Kindness"

Steve Sjogren is the senior pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Cincinatti, Ohio. It is a church plant that has been ranked as on of the twenty five fastest growing churches in U.S. Steve applies both the spiritual and practical ways to show kind acts to people in order to share the love of Christ. Since then, Steve has a church planting internship program and his coaching efforts have produced several dozen successful church plants.  Steve is currently focused on writing, speaking and mentoring church planters. A wave of kindness has been in constant growth since Steve has written this book and many others that encourage and empower Christians to share their faith with the heart of Christ. Towards the end of the book, there are tangible steps to putting acts of kindness together with real-life set up and breakdowns of doing a quality job in loving the lost. Conspiracy for Kindness is an insightful look at sharing Jesus with the lost through random acts of kindness that reveals the love of Christ.

The importance of kindness is the vehicle by which people see and experience the love of Christ. The book reminds the reader of putting feet to their faith and not just talking about God’s love. In the book, many acts of kindness are recorded and people’s responses are many times, “Why are you doing this?” The response of unbelievers to the sharing of kindness opens up many doors to share the gospel with hurting people. The first chapter shows believers that God is active in the process of helping people see Christ but He uses people as the first priority in reaching others with the gospel. People are open to love and that is the premise of using this approach to sharing Jesus with the lost world.

The author uses many good illustrations of knowing the “basics” and continually going over knowing the purpose of sharing the gospel with the lost. He uses the word “goals” that a person sets before they begin to share the gospel. The author explains the importance of helping each person finding a distinct way to show kindness to people in order to share Jesus. The book displays many instances of older versions of evangelism and talks about knowing the culture and the more effective ways to share the gospel.

The author goes through a variety of “myths” relating to evangelism and why many people do not share their faith. The book does a good job of explaining the importance of being with people and moving outside of the “church bubble” and into the lives of people in the community. The book then moves onto helping people build courage as they learn to share their faith in groups. Random acts of kindness are explained in a great way to help church leaders apply the information in the book for their own ministries.

Lastly, the book does not discount the importance of getting children involved in serving people through acts of kindness. The great lesson that children learn is to be counter-culture and to be a “giver” than a “receiver.” Not only does the author talk about children, but points out the importance of small groups and how effective they can be in the community. People can find a group to identify with and feel loved is a great point for the church to be aware of and act upon.

This book reveals the heart of Christ in a way that sheds light on loving people and sharing Christ. Although there are many approaches to evangelism in the church today, this book reveals the servant’s heart of Christ. The danger that this book poses is that Christians only focus upon grace and not on the law. The law is what shows us we need Christ, the Ten Commandments is a “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” The book does reveal a good path to use the acts of kindness to open the door for the gospel, the important idea to be aware of is a “social gospel” that is based only on people’s needs. The reality of this is seen in many churches today where the gospel is spread with a “me” mentality. In other words, the gospel is meant only for people and not for God’s ultimate glory.

The book poses many great illustrations for believers to wrap their minds around in their walk with God. The reality is people need to know the Christians care before they open up their heart to God. This book does a wonderful job of using real-life stories to show how kindness is used to help people know Christ’s love. The title of the book conveys a challenge to the traditional approaches (door-to-door, etc) but offers an alternative rather than attacking the older ways of evangelism. The book states many valid points on how Christians spend a considerable amount of time talking about evangelism, but very little actually doing it. The author is clear in expressing how important it is to meeting people at their point of need, relating to them, and expressing the gospel.

This book does have a unique tone seeing that Steve is from a Vineyard Fellowship Church. Many times authors from Baptist background are less willing to talk about tangible acts of kindness and more upon confrontational evangelism. The author uses many examples that include his own times sharing his faith, which reveals a transparent way to understand the author’s heart. The author continually points out the importance of embodying the picture of the gospel, not just speaking about it. The author’s points have been proven in many lives that are learning how to share Jesus and this book confirms that good approach that kindness brings in the lost.

The author does a good job of writing about how to respond to rejection in witnessing. This quote was great in understanding outreach, “we realize before we even set foot outside of the church parking lot that a certain percentage of our seeds of kindness will be rejected.” The author paints a realistic picture of how many people will be rejected for being witnesses of Jesus Christ. Even with handing out a drink to people for free, some were rejected and treated with disdain.

The great aspect about this book is it gives everyday believers the encouragement that they can impact people for the kingdom of God. Since the church is in an age of postmodernism where people think, “go ahead and try to show me about Jesus”, this book is an adequate answer to showing the gospel through action. The author completes his goal in this book and will be a good tool for believers to apply to their lives.

The one negative side of the book is that it rarely talks about calling people to a commitment to Christ. Jesus always called people to a commitment to follow Him and did not base it upon their feelings but on His love for them. In order for people to get the complete story of the gospel, the truth must be shared at some point of evangelism. The method that is used is one that shows kindness and love but at some point the lost person needs to be confronted lovingly with the reality of eternity.

The word that is used to describe the book is key for the reader to get the overall meaning and impact of the teaching. The author is complete and wise in his dealings with people that are un-churched. This book is successful in the completion of a book that not only shows kindness in its approach to evangelism, but in its practical application for churches. Many churches today are in need of a “revival” of sorts of the definition of evangelism. The word “evangelism” evokes a feeling of fear and failure to many believers today and this book is a great tool to disprove the myths of evangelism and gives practical ways to learn how to share the gospel with the lost.

The deeds of kindness that are used in the book are quite practical and reveal a heart of Christ to lost people. Not only does the author give the “nuts and bolts” of showing kindness, but also he gives a clear and convincing explanation for a new look at evangelism in today’s culture. The author was successful in his vision for this ministry book and many people will find a clear and demonstrative tool to apply to their arsenal to share Jesus.

Lastly, the whole premise of kindness is a reminder to the church today that people are not won over by large church buildings or slick programs, but are looking for meaningful relationships. This book conveys a spirit of kindness that has not been seen in the writings about evangelism in the past. The author gives a refreshing look at how we love people and show the sacrificial love that Christ showed us on the cross. The book was a good read and is useful to any believer no matter where they are on their journey of following Christ.