Sermon Illustrations

In his book, Building a Contagious Church, Mark Mittleberg asks us to join him in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. As you walk up to the large arena, you see a mass of young people in line for a concert. The headline act is shock-rockeer Marilyn Manson (named after Marilyn Monroe and mass murderer Charles Manson and bills himself as the “Anti-Christ Superstar”). The crowd is noisy and energetic, ready to see a show that most, if not all of us would not even consider attending, to say the least.

As you get closer, you notice a group of people engaging the concertgoers in lively discussion. The protesters are Christians with signs expressing their disapproval of Marilyn Manson and all those who would attend the concert. These zealous protesters are yelling at the crowd, and the Manson fans are shouting back with equal intensity. Though no physical blows are exchanged across the battle lines, a steady barrage of verbal missiles and assaults are launched back and forth. Obviously there is a significant disconnect between the two groups.

Soon another group of Christians enter the mix. It’s a band of 19-29 year olds from a ministry called “the gro-ups”, sponsored by Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center, Michigan. They unload bags of ice, coolers, and cases of Mountain Dew. They walk up to the pulsating crowd of anxious rockers and begin giving away soft drinks. No signs condemning anyone, no strings attached—just free drinks, a smile and a sincere, “Have a good evening.”

Some of the people going to the concert simply accepted the free drink and moved on. Others say thank you and asked “Why are you doing this?”

The answer was simple with not shame or guilt attached, “We love God and we love you!”

Some snickered and walked away. Others lingered and talked a bit. One young man begins to interact more deeply and even decides to throw away his ticket and help the members of “gro-ups” hand out more drinks! Out of this simple act of service, lives were touched and the love of Jesus was communicated to people who might have no other positive contact with Christians. There was an obvious connection between the two groups.

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