Summary: How to handle change in the church
One Big Mess, Luke 8:26-39, Pardon our Dust series
Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ
August 4, 2002
A couple of years ago I was involved in youth ministry and the church which I worked for had a huge VBS every year. We would typically have 150 kids at the vacation bible school week. As a promotional too to get the kids to bring their friends and bring their offerings we provided some incentives. Such as if our attendance reached 200 people then one person would get a pie in the face. And if our offerings reached a certain number then another person would get a pie in the face.
I don’t think any of you have to guess where I’m going with this. Being new to the staff it was initiation time and I was pretty much the director for the week. So as you can see I was target number 1. Those of you know me know a couple of things about me. I like pie, but I really don’t like messes. The big day was Friday, the kids met all of their goals so I wanted to be the first to receive my sentence. I thought that pie to the face would take probably 3 seconds. Pie up and then gone. What happened to me however probably took about 20 seconds. And to this day I maintain that I was not hit with one pie but 2, Anyway my face went into the pie then it was smushed around my head. It was in my hair, my precious hair, it was all over my shirt, it was under my contact lenses, it was up my nose, it was packed in my eardrums. I was pulling whipped cream and graham cracker our of my ears for about a year.
Now that may be funny to you. But let me tell you that it was not humorous to me, Oh sure I went a long with it but I believe that God meant for pies to go in the mouth and not in the ear. I also learned that if you ever take a job as youth minister never go to the church the week before VBS.
Now I was not the only one who got a little messy that day. There was a long line of people who were forced to receive their “Just Desert”. But we all allowed that to happen to us because we realized one thing, and it may have been founded in a spirit of goofing off or just having fun. The thing that those people realized is that “Bringing people to Jesus never comes without one big mess”
We had number of people become a part of the church because VBS has always been a big thing. And when people see that others can have fun, and are willing to get messy The message of Jesus becomes just a little more real.
We are looking at how God has been changing some things in order to help us be more effective as a church. The Bible reminds us that God wants everyone to come in and be a part of eternal life and the message from God is no price is too high, no mess to big.
Right after September 11 of last year a lot of people were asking “why”. And although I want to stress that tragedies do not come from God. He worked through that mess and was able to bring people closer to him. Oh sure we hear reports about church attendance slipping back to where it was before but one thing is clear, in the middle of the huge mess there was a great ministry.
The facts about what God thinks are not debatable, and the stories are there to act as evidence and reminders that “No cost is to high, No mess to big” Need examples? Paul’s life was messed up because he followed God. He was mistreated and eventually killed for his belief. You know what some people didn’t like about Paul. He messed things up and let those Gentiles, those sinners into the church.
Zachaeus’ life was messed up because he followed Jesus. Read through your Bibles, almost everyone who gets serious about their faith has their lives messed up because their compassion costs them their temporary stability.
The stories of Jesus are full of messy situations. Here’s my problem, I don’t like messes. I would rather just let it go than rock the boat. I would rather just do what’s popular than receive complaints and criticism. But then I come back to the heart of it all and remember “no cost is too high is I can help someone to Jesus”
When my home church, the St. Louis church started build their new addition. There were people who didn’t even attend the church calling the minister and the elders asking them why they were “destroying the look of the building”. The St. Louis church knows that “no mess is to big” if it’s God’s will.