In the Way
Sunday morning was fantastic, complete with some wonderful worship led by the New Life Singers and the Exaltation Choir and Orchestra, followed by an excellent and encouraging message from our own Jay Ramer.
In his sermon, Jay shared a story from his team’s recent mission trip to Colorado.
As the church and mission team gathered for a block party one evening, a few team members went next door to visit a neighbor who had proven difficult for the church—the only church in town—to reach.
This resident’s main contention rested with the church building itself, which she disliked simply for the fact that the two-story structure partially blocked her view of the picturesque Rocky Mountains.
That resentment had made it challenging for the church to establish a relationship, but a simple invitation from someone new seemed to soften her heart. (If you know Brenda Wolfley, Sheryl Rudolph and Nancy Steward, you can understand the effectiveness of their invitations.)
This neighbor finally gave in and chose to attend the block party. She began to have a good time, engaged in conversation, ate the meal prepared by the team and even laughed together with those around her. The barriers came down a little, even if only for that night.
For more than two decades, a barrier (both physical and relational) had remained between the church and its neighbors, and it took a special event to begin to break that roadblock down even a little. The church was in the way, and it didn’t even know it.
Which leads us to the question: Isn’t that the way the church should be—in the way?
While we would never want to be a barrier for people or annoy them with our presence, there is something to be said for being “in the way” so that people who don’t know Jesus will at least have to adjust course to “get around” the people who are pointing to Him.
We don’t intend to prevent people from seeing and responding to Christ, but we do hope to get their attention. That won’t happen well if we just step in their way with a sandwich board that says something like: “Ha! Jesus is gonna get you! Stop and meet Him today!”
It works best when we walk with them, lead the way and invite them to open their eyes and hearts to truly see and experience Jesus.
The modern age is one of distraction. Screens and sounds and activities can easily drown out even the most important things and people in our lives. We struggle to pay attention. To listen. To truly be present.
We won’t want to be a distraction from Jesus. Plenty of options compete for their interest and attention. But we do want to be “in the way” so that people are forced into a decision to respond to Him or deliberately adjust course in avoidance.
It may lead to a few awkward conversations and even some relational tension, but we believe Jesus is worth the risk and that there is grace for us even in the awkward.
Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th Century preacher, illustrated perhaps the ultimate picture of the church being “in the way” of those rushing headlong toward destruction:
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
The church is supposed to be “in the way”—declaring the truth of the Word of God and warning sinners of the end their path will lead them to. We do this by pointing them to Jesus, by praying fervently for their salvation and by pleading with them to repent and believe the gospel.
And when transformation happens through the work of the Spirit in their lives, we develop them as disciples of Jesus and help them learn what it means to follow Him.
Though the mission team invested almost an entire week in Colorado and ministered to many in the community, we will see if this softened heart gives way to the gospel. We will pray that God will do the miraculous through this church that continues to be “in the way”.
And Meadowood will continue to strive to be a church that stands in the way of those on the path to destruction.
That is the mission God has called us to.
So, let's be in the way.