One story in the gospels that always catches my attention is that of the paralyzed man in Mark chapter 2. Jesus is preaching to a group of people crowded into a small home in Capernaum. Four men approach the house, carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. When they see that they can’t even get close to the front door, they decide to climb on the roof, make a hole, and lower their friend down to where Jesus was teaching.

Jesus notices the great faith of those men on the roof and decides to help their friend. He looks at the man and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

How would that scene have played out in most churches today? Some would have been irritated at the interruption to a well-attended event. Others would have quickly dispatched a team to repair the damage to the roof. I suspect that most would have wanted to tend to this man’s physical needs by procuring a wheel chair or arranging for advanced medical treatment.

How many of us would have placed a priority on the sin in the man’s life? How many would have broached that subject at all?

There was a time in the history of the Restoration Movement where we had little to offer to the world outside of a presentation of the gospel. We wanted to talk about getting saved and being a member of the church, or we didn’t want to talk to people at all.

The pendulum has swung, and now we often offer everything but the good news. We bring in our neighbors to help with their finances, improve their marriages, entertain their kids, and share a meal together. We share with them all we’ve learned about living a better life; rarely do we talk to them about eternal life. If we’re not careful, we’ll find that people can visit our churches for months and months and never learn how to have their sins forgiven.

We must never forget that the unique mission of the church is to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Secular non-profits can feed the hungry and house the homeless. They can give family seminars and financial training. They can even provide community and fellowship. But only the church has the words of eternal life. Only God’s people can tell of Jesus sacrifice and what it has done for us.

We need to be ministering to those around us, providing for their physical and emotional needs as best we can. But we must never forget that the greatest need people have is the need for a Savior. The best news they will ever receive are the wonderful words: “Your sins are forgiven.”

My suggestions:

People need a Savior. They need the gospel. They need to know that their sins can be forgiven. And we’re the ones God has chosen to make sure they hear that good news.

5 Responses

  1. SUch an interesting approach.
    First of all, the event took place NOT at a “church building,” but at someone’s home.
    Which, by all accords and numbers, is the best place for evangelism to take place. The “church building” is the worst place for evangelism, by all accounts. Look at growth numbers, and it is obvious that the “church building” is not a major player.
    Person-to-person relationships, you and your neighbor, friend, co-worker, relative. In small circles…
    In Acts we see growth taking place outside the “church building” as well. Sure, big meetings – but all were in the same circumstance: LOST!
    Apart from that, in the assemblies the purpose is not evangelism, but building up, encouraging fellow believers. Offering the invitation – let me suggest some reading for you: “Early Christians Speak…”
    That tells us a lot about how and why early Christians met, and even where.
    Acts tells us about how the Body grows: People going OUT, and ‘preaching’ the Word everywhere. No invites to join us at our time of worship. No “Come hear OUR preacher, he is better than all the others…” No, “Our music is better than your music…” or “Our show is better…”
    A simple sharing of the message: You are dying in sin, and need to do something about it (I would suggest a different packaging!). But that is THE purpose of the sharing of the message of Christ!

  2. That’s a good point, Rudy, about the event taking place in a home. I agree that, for many, the worship assembly is not the best point of first contact.

    My concern is that many churches focus on attracting outsiders to church events, but don’t know what to do once they are there.

    1. A wholehearted AMEN to that! But “we” taught them to bring them in, and the preacher will take care of the rest… After all, that’s what we are paying the professionals for.

      I’m not a “house church” proponent, but there are times where I have a really strong dislike towards our cathedrals…

  3. Tim,
    This is a pretty good article, but I must offer my two cents. I feel I have been very fortunate in my walk with the Lord being taught by The Church of Christ to test everything to be sure it matches the scriptures. I was very active in trying to conduct cottage meeting as they were called using Jule Miller videos etc to teach anyone who would listen. While doing that many questions would surface which we had never encountered in church and even our Bible studies. Many times while attempting to answer those questions I would find that the results I located did not always support the massage that we had been programmed to deliver. I and my family experienced hostility from local preachers and some members as I attempted to bring these findings to them. I was even dis-fellowshiped by a congregation because I was advocating that we should have Elders, the preacher would not even entertain a selection process. He did not want any, he was operating as a dictator, but was so smooth the congregation was unaware. With that said, I was looking at the suggestions, and have a different opinion with a few. Rather than reprint I’ll treat them as if numbered in ascension.

    I believe that any member of Christ’s Body (The Church) who could not explain to a lost soul why and how they accepted Jesus and was adopted into His family, would not really be a Christian, and needs to counseled themselves.

    This second is linked heavily from the first. Any Christian should be fully aware of who they would turn to for further instruction.

    The next two begin part of the problems that I see. I’ll relate a saying that I have developed from observance of my family’s life in (church). We drove our own children out of the churches. How, we allowed the church to teach our children and anyone in the world outside, that we worship in the building. Our children were required to go with us and visitors from outside would come to the worship. There they saw Mr. and Mrs. Goodie Two Shoes, how they shinned with their dress, hospitality, caring and love. Then they met the same outside the worship and all admiration ceased, they did not profess the same character in their lives. Most of the children including mine stopped going to church as soon as they were on their own. Can you understand why? The problem here is that if we worship in the building then our worship must have stopped as we left the building. Worship I see in the NT is 24/7 and our attendance at an assembly is to edify and build each other up. Do you know Christians who do not feel edified and built up after services? As a result many of the most dedicated church attenders have become so dis-cussed, disillusioned by the politics at the assemblies that we have called church that they have drawn the conclusion, that they cannot invite others to even come into this environment. Then they finally realize that the church is not God as it projects, desiring to place itself in the authority of God, and they leave. Oh they did not leave the true Church that Jesus established, it is a Spiritual Church and is inside each Christian. They still believe in Jesus and all he stands for, they teach their friends and meet with a small group, but not like that church they left. Read a book called (The Dones) they are also on facebook. Do you believe that the true Church of Christ could be supportive of them? Do you believe that Jesus would be supportive of them?

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