How To Pick Up A Stripper And Over Acts Of Kindness: Serving People Just As They Are, by Todd And Erin Stevens
[Note: This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers/BookLook in exchange for an honest review.]
The title of this book is deliberately provocative, referring to a ministry staffed by the women of the authors’ congregation in Nashville, Tennessee that serves food and gifts to strippers in order to show them that God loves them and that despite their deeds they are precious to God. At its core, this book is about choosing the way of give over the way of get, not giving to an organization but rather seeking to serve the needs of others on emotional, material, and spiritual levels. While this book could easily become part of a false dilemma on the question of how it is best to deal with sin, it is clear that this book is merely dealing with the first step of a very long process of discipling and evangelizing through service and love directed in practical ways. In looking at this book, one is struck by the fact that many of the ways that we can be better servants of others are not very complicated–slow down, pay attention to people and listen to them carefully with love and respect, and meet them where they are without any kind of ulterior motives except to show them the sort of love and regard that God has for them.
As might be expected for a book whose provocative title about serving the needs of strippers but whose content is challenging but rigorously Christian, this book is designed with several aims in mind. In terms of its organization, the book is organized into eight full chapters that deal with such subjects as how to get started in serving others, building the right reputation of love (reputation not being a particularly easy matter for some of us), meeting people where they are, serving them sacrificially, sowing seeds of kindness, helping one’s congregation gain a good name in the community, giving generously, telling God about them (instead of focusing merely on telling them about God), and writing the next chapter. These chapters combine sound biblical exegesis along with humorous personal anecdotes and cultural references that range from the Clapper to Dr. Who, and are written mainly to a Christian audience that needs to be provoked out of complacency and lukewarm self-satisfaction but that also does not need guilt trips or condemnation. Quite bluntly and obviously, what this book seeks to do is encourage believers to act in love towards everyone without mercenarial expectations with the knowledge that people will only seek God’s ways from people who have shown themselves to be loving and understanding . All too often we focus on preaching the truth before we show others that we care about them as people apart from whether they are a part of our organization or not.
To be sure, none of these matters are supposed to be complicated. A cursory read of the New Testament (or even the Old Testament) will show how believers have always supposed to be concerned about the material and spiritual (and emotional) needs of other people in their community, whether they are believers or not. Yet it is so easy in the hurry of life to fail to get to know others and their needs, to only have the most superficial understanding of their lives and concerns. Yet if we slow down in the hurry of our lives to get to know others in depth, we will find much to pray about, much to encourage others with, and much to help with. For, no matter who we are or what we struggle with, we are human beings all the same, created in the image and likeness of God. Let us never forget this fact when we are seeking to live a godly life, never forgetting to love such sinners as we are, no matter how much we may hate sin.
 This is a common concern: