Summary: It will be necessary to do some unusual things that will raise the anger of some Christians and will not be understood in the larger community. But the bottom line is getting help to those who need it.
Several years ago, when housing prices began to shoot up into the stratosphere, we began to see something new in my neighborhood. We saw many of the houses being opened up from the top, and then construction of new second stories or new dormers or even decks and balconies, way up high. What was happening?
Well, because of the cost of real estate, people who at one time might have considered moving into a larger house as their needs expanded took on a new strategy. It cost too much to go out and purchase a whole new house, so they just added on to their old houses.
In particular, at least in my neighborhood, the preferred strategy was to raise the roof and put on a second story or convert the attic into usable living space. Everywhere you look· in my part of Silver Spring, you see modest cape cods and small bungalows with a telltale bulge at the back or with a different color siding on the front, and that shows you that these folks have made room for their needs by raising the roof.
Now when you raise the roof like that, two kinds of conflict follow. First, you will have some tensions within the family living there, because while the roof is being raised, somebody is going to feel unprotected. Somebody is going to feel insecure and unsafe, and there is always the danger of a storm intruding, and so raising the roof causes sane tension within the family while the work is being done … tension because for a time they feel unprotected.
But raising the roof brings some tension outside the family too. Unless the architect who has designed the addition is very skillful – and I’m sure the situations I’m talking about did not hire Sutton Campbell Britt Owens – unless the architect who designed the roof -raising was very skillful, you get some weird looking houses. You get some strange and awkward concoctions. And that causes tension among the neighbors. They decide they don’t like looking at that monstrosity, and they grumble. They decide that their view has been ruined, and they gripe. They think that what you’ve done in raising the roof is crazy, and they don’t like it. Primarily they don’t like it because it changes what they’ve been used to. People just resist change in their viewpoint. Raising the roof means tension.
For fifteen or so years our house looked out on the woods. There were about twenty-five undeveloped acres behind us, and my children could roam around in them, my wife could transplant wild flowers from them, and yours truly once got lost trying to short cut from the house to the bus stop! We loved our woods! But then a few years ago developers bought the property and build scores of homes and town houses back there. We no longer look at the woods; now we look at somebody’s back yard, complete with deck and barbecue pit and roofline – oh, the roofline! It’s way up there; why did they put it up so high? It blocks our view, and we just grumbled and groaned.
Raising the roof causes tensions both within the family and without. But the point is that in the end more needs are taken care of because somebody dared to raise the roof.
Let me read you a story that makes that point. I want to share with you about some folks who raised the roof and also raised some tensions, but the real point is that somebody else got what he needed.
In January of 1987 at our annual meeting we were introduced to a plan for the redevelopment of the life of our church. Coming out of a period of uncertainty and difficulty, we began to work at putting all the pieces in place so that we could once again become the kind of people God was calling us to be.
We used a metaphor to help us picture what this would be like. We used the metaphor, the picture, of building a house. We imagined that if we were going to rebuild our church … and you recognize I am not talking now about constructing a building, but about building a fellowship, building a working church … we imagined that if we were going to rebuild our church, it would be something like what you might do in remodeling a house. And so we set out to do, year by year, the kinds of things that would bring us toward being the kind of church we ought to be.
Review with me, just briefly, what we have set out to do. Look at the front of your worship bulletin, and it’s all laid out for you.
In 1987, the first year, we determined that we would secure our foundations. We did great deal of organizational work and we put together our staff, most of whom remain with us to this day.