Herzen and I have had to put a roof on more than one house. It’s an unsatisfying purchase, doling out thousands of dollars for something that’s necessary but changes nothing. I find it even less gratifying to replace a roof on a church.
When it rained hard, the ushers at Mt. Zion knew the routine. They would rush to put out every available bucket to catch the water dripping in the sanctuary. The need for a new roof couldn’t have been more obvious. Yet the church leadership made an impractical but faithful decision: to put a roof over a family’s head before replacing the one over the church’s.
So one Sunday the congregation, under the leadership of Clay Jacobs, laid their gifts (no pledges) on the altar to build its first Habitat house. The result: a congregation that had been financially strapped for years gave in one hour enough to build not one, but two homes in Cobb County, as well as one in Ghana. The church was so enthusiastic about this mission that its first Habitat house was erected, completed, and dedicated in a week. The congregation learned again that God is faithful when we are faithful to the church’s mission to be the hands and feet of Christ. The experience had the effect of rebooting the church’s outreach as Mt. Zion went on to build 25 Habitat houses in the years since.
A leader in our conference once told me about meeting with a small church to discuss its vitality. The possibility of offering a Confirmation class was discussed. “Do you have money to send the youth to the Confirmation retreat at Glisson?” he asked. “No. The only money we have is in our roof fund.” In the end the church decided that the making of disciples was a higher priority than re-roofing the church.
Jesus had no roof under which to lay his head. The first Methodists preached in the open air. Clearly, then, a roof is not essential to ministry and the making of disciples. A good roof will last about 15-30 years, but the rebirth of hearts and lives impacts eternity.
We have seven youth and four adults going on the Confirmation retreat at Camp Glisson, March 3-5. If you would like to help with the expense of the retreat, please mark your gift “confirmation”.
See you Sunday,