Today we are
talking about evangelism at the finest. Oh, right, all the liturgy
today pointed to forgiveness. Well, I changed my thought and will
get to that at the end of the message.
We see that
today. The crowd is so thick that a paralyzed man who wants a healing
can’t get through so his friends devise a plan on getting
him in. They take him up onto the roof and lower him down into the
roof. They just don’t lower him down, the scripture says that
they removed the roof and after they dug through it.
Did you know
that houses in Capernaum and other parts of that ancient world had
hardened mud roofs? That saplings were put across the top of the
home, that briars were put between the saplings, and that mud was
pressed into the briars so it could dry? Did you know that homes
often had mud roofs? Did you also know that we find similar mud
bricks and mud roofs in very poor homes in poor fourth world countries?
Let me show what they had to dig through.
You can imagine
what that might be like for the people who were standing below in
the house with Jesus.
They might begin
to hear people but this was common in biblical times. The roof was
used for fellowship and relaxation during hot summer nights. Don’t
you remember that is where David first saw Bathsheba as she was
bathing? So that F might have not startled them.
But it is the
removal of the roof that would have startled them. It wasn’t
that they removed it – like lifted it up off the walls but
they dug through it.
What a mess!
Briars and hunks of mud, branches falling in their hair onto their
clothes and how their hands – I am sure they did not bring
Where was the
woman of the house? What was she thinking about while this was going
on? What would you ladies think about? What do you think you are
doing? Come down off my roof. Jesus will get to you. How about waiting?
Were you born in a barn?
“Well a matter of fact I was.”
But they put
a hole in the roof and they lower the man down right smack in the
midst of Jesus.
I might want
to call this “Messy Evangelism.”
Then some people
came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.
say they were his friends but they obviously cared for this man.
SINGLE MOM’S GROUP
When I read this I couldn’t help thinking about the single
mom’s group. We have four core people and a few others on
We have four
women who are committed to this ministry.
Me, Karen Eis,
Joy McFadden and Tamara Fritz. Crystal Rogers takes care of the
We are committed by showing up and enjoying the time together while
the children are being taken care of. It is a wonderful ministry
and as we meet other women in the same situation we invite them
too. It is a way to get support and encouragement through life.
You know there
are somewhere around 150 children who live in Ashton Pines. I went
over to see the property manager and I imagine many of them are
What if our
group asked these people what they needed most and we found it was
after school care for their children. Maybe they work and it is
difficult to find good care for their children and many times they
can’t afford to have them at a sitters because of their low
income so they become latch key children.
my idea you know, Ang came to me a few years ago when I first got
here and she had this vision for this kind of ministry. She said
the bus would drop them right here at the church.
So what if we
came to the church board and said we want to begin this ministry.
Oh and another
thing, we need more space and so we would like to knock down some
of the Sunday school walls to provide space for larger age groups.
Now I have gone
to meddling right.
What would our
response be? Pastor Janet, You are crazy. You and the rest of your
group are crazy. It can’t be done. We cannot remove the roof
and dig through the dirt to bring these families to Jesus. It can’t
I am not talking
about the construction although that is a messy project.
What would that
mean to the Sunday school classes on Sunday morning? Where would
If we talked
to the properties team, they would have real reservations.
If we talked
to the board, they might have reservations about the liabilities.
If we talked
to fellowship they might have real reservations about the kitchen
use because we would feed them a snack.
If we talked
to finance, they would ask where is the money coming from.
question of laity would be who is going to serve in this new ministry.
These are real
questions – real concerns.
For all of us
trying to bring people into the fold of the community of God, it
is a challenge. Just like the challenge the four men went through
to get this paralyzed man down from the roof. It wasn’t just
challenging for the people who were lowering the man but it was
challenging for the paralytic as well.
Just like the
paralytic man may have had.
How do you think this is going to work?
How are you going to take me up the ladder?
How will you get me through the roof? You don’t have any tools.
How will you lower me down?
What are the owners of the home going to say?
What if I fall?
It does seem
insurmountable, doesn’t it?
He may have
been paralyzed in his own messiness.
All of these things may have held him back.
All of these things may have kept him from getting the healing that
he so desperately needed.
Jesus saw their faith”
It does take
a lot of faith to move from a place of paralyzing fear and into
Trust is a part of that faith.
Trust can easily
be granted when:
We ask the questions:
Do you trust the group that is about to begin this ministry?
Are they answering the questions that I have?
Are they alleviating some of my fears?
Maybe the four
men were asking the question
Do you believe this is something that God is calling us to?
Is Jesus who they say he is?
Is it worth the risk?
The four men
and we might say
Is this a ministry that is worth getting messy over?
Do we see the real value in the outcome?
Do we see the real need?
in his fear, the four men in their apprehension, all of us in our
uncertainty – we begin to trust and our faith points us in
the direction one step at a time – one hurdle at a time.
For the four
today, we might find that they found a hurdle right away.
We are going
to need rope to lower him down. How will we get him down?
With each question,
they searched for the answer.
do some creative evangelism, we have to think outside of our traditional
box and search for the answers.
For the four,
it is collective. They four creative minds working together committed
to the cause of getting this man to Jesus.
For us a new
and creative ministry will take all the teams working together to
bring this. It is something that church is committed to.
And it might
get a little messy. Because we have to think outside of our own
understanding of ministry and what it should look like.
The Dream Center
came from a start up church. There were a handful of people who
were committed to bringing Christ to the inner city of LA. They
began to go door to door asking the people how could the church
serve this neighborhood. The neighborhood was run down and boarded
up and the businesses left there. And in that time they began ministries.
They found they needed help taking care of things in their homes.
The church grew
and they were funded outside money to buy an old hospital.
In this hospital
– THE DEAM CENTER
after-school activities, tutoring, sports leagues and employment
opportunities that enhance job readiness and prepare youth for life
after high school. The positive and supportive atmosphere is a much
needed alternative to the violence, drugs, truancy and poverty,
which had become neighborhood trademarks.
This weekly service is geared toward junior high through college-age
young people. Fun activities, insightful messages and progressive
music are used to encourage this generation to be the difference
in the future of the church and society
ADOPT A BLOCK
This is The Dream Center’s flagship outreach ministry. Over
the last 12 years it has grown to be 35 sites covering over 85 blocks
in the communities of Echo Park, Silverlake, Skid Row and South
Central Los Angeles. Every Saturday morning, an average of 500 volunteers
reach out to people that live in these neighborhoods in the spirit
of service. Teams clean homes, paint over graffiti, make minor home
repairs, organize games for the children and visit with the elderly.
Requests for appliances, clothing, food and furniture are filled.
To date, Adopt-A-Block teams have assisted over 30,000 people by
knocking on doors and simply asking: “How can we serve you?”
Started as a way to get people to church, the Bus Ministry now transports
thousands of volunteers to the Adopt-A-Block sites where relationships
are built through weekly in-home visits. It is through these visits
that we learn of each person’s true needs and help is provided
both tangibly and spiritually. For some it is simply transportation
to weekly services, for others it is a way to participate in our
events (Back-2-School backpack giveaway, Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway,
and the Christmas bike and toy giveaway) yet for many the Bus Ministry
provides a way out of their current situation and a bridge to transformation.
children and families whose odds of success are compromised by poverty
and other difficult circumstances. Programs like Project Prevention
and Transitional Family Housing work closely with County and State
social service agencies to assure that families stay together or
are reunited in cases of severe poverty or homelessness.
at a church in inner city LA. This church saw the needs of the people
around them and they began to put their creative minds together
and they found new and messy ministries for the church to delve
into Dream Center programs have been designed for the purpose of
changing lives. We want to reconnect people who have been isolated
by poverty, substance abuse, gangs, imprisonment, homelessness,
abuse, and neglect to God and to a community of support to meet
their physical and spiritual needs.
makes things messy. His hands got dirty. Remember when he spit in
the dirt and made paste and healed the blind man. It was messy for
all who encountered him. Jesus placed himself on the outside of
the church on the margins of society and brought healing to some
and mess to others.
That is what
was happening today. The men who brought the man today got really
messy trying to bring him to Jesus. They had faith to know it was
what they had to do to get him to Jesus. And that was a little messy
for the scribes and Pharisee. You do not have the authority to forgive
sins. This is messy for them isn’t it?
We are committed
to bring the world into reconciliation with God – just like
Jesus who was reconciling the world to God. We don’t have
to say anything except you are invited and let the Holy Spirit do
– THAT IS WHO JESUS WAS – THAT IS WHO WE ARE.