Zillah Community Church Practices Servant Evangelism

Touching the hearts of your neighbors in a relevant way can be a real challenge. Doing so in a new way each month adds a layer of complication that the Zillah Community church overcame by focusing on parts of modern society that always need attention.

Sunshine in the Pacific Northwest quickly brings out smiles and dirty autos, so Zillah church members arranged with the owner of the local car wash to supply quarters, buckets, brushes and drying towels for free car washes. For two hours one sunny Sunday morning in February, members rolled up their sleeves and applied liberal amounts of “elbow grease” to dozens of cars.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the event was the large sign, which read, “NO donations accepted.” Some would-be patrons had difficulty accepting the fact that receiving a clean car was totally a matter of grace, which provided a strong parallel to consider as they drove away.

In March, Zillah members took advantage of the escalating price of gasoline and pumped gas, washed windows and handed out envelopes with two-dollar cash “instant rebates” at a busy Chevron station. Once again, the concept of church members doing good works at no charge to help emphasize the nature of the gospel required explanation and convincing for several patrons.

Sign-toting “marketers” for the event ranged from Sarah Mann, 6, to Dick Coder, 74, who was recuperating from two recent surgeries and worked from a roadside chair. Mina Beth Halbert, 80, washed car windows and pumped gas as well.

Members strolled through town in April to remind residents to set clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time and to give away nine-volt batteries for smoke detectors. Another special community event was a live reenactment of the Last Supper.

In 2002, the Zillah church tried a novel approach at community relevance via the Internet. For several years, a local businessman ran an Internet site at www.zillah.com, which specialized in community news and items of interest. In order to increase revenues, the site became a portal for adult entertainment for a short time, resulting in considerable uproar.

After city council members rejected an offer to buy the domain name for $5,000.00, the site was removed from the Internet. After quiet negotiations, the Zillah church acquired the domain for less that $200.00 and re-created the site as a family-friendly information source. The change was so striking that a regional newspaper published an article about the transformation from “naughty to nice.”

Additional new sections of the site have been published for local municipal organizations, including the police department, chamber of commerce, city council, mayor’s office, church locator, and public schools, resulting in a favorable standing in the community. The Zillah congregation heartily endorses this idea to other Adventist churches.

Routine blood drives by the American Red Cross at the church and an active television ministry at www.steeple.tv help to round out the life of this busy church. •