Cabinet urges to 'step up your faith'
By Sylvester Weatherall
PEORIA – Rev. Sylvester Weatherall encouraged lay and clergy members to step up their faith by ensuring Jesus is in the house, that Jesus is the reason we invite others to church and that Jesus is worth the trip.
Utilizing the story of Jesus and the paralytic in Mark 2, Weatherall asked, “There are 318.86 (2014) million people living in the United States today. With all of those people, why isn’t every church, represented in this room, filled to capacity?”
He noted that there are “literally thousands and thousands of churches across this nation; no matter where they are, in every community, one or two of them are growing.”
In the Spoon River, Weatherall noticed “a lot of flash and pop big-box churches” that place all their effort on the Sunday morning show but have no benevolence or mission opportunities during the week. “I am finding it’s our Methodist churches that have the food pantry, the clothing bank and after-school ministries,” he said. “When people need help, they head for our flame and cross.”
The role of the church is to introduce people to Jesus so the Lord can change the world one heart at a time.
“I believe Brothers and sisters that many of our churches aren’t growing because Jesus has been removed from the EVANGELISM equation,” Weatherall said. “We’ve dropped him from the team!”
“Evangelism is not a packaged program. Evangelism, is using all of the gifts God has given us, to introduce people to Jesus,” he noted. “But I have discovered that:
- We invite people to church potlucks, but not to JESUS.
- We invite people to come hear the pastor preach, but not to JESUS.
- We invite people to musicals, but not to JESUS.
- We invite people to church weddings, but not to JESUS.
- We invite people to Christian plays, but not to JESUS.
- We invite people to bake sales and fish fry’s, but not to JESUS.
He explained that there are two components. “Here is the issue. On one hand – we have the loving and faithful God, who wants to have relationship with us,” Weatherall said. “On the other hand we’ve got sinful people who, since the trespass of Adam in the garden, sometimes separate from God’s will. And they are in need of a relationship with the Lord.”
Weatherall said that first, Jesus must be “in the house.”
“God is calling us to step up our faith and make sure Jesus is in the house, noting that when that happens, “lives will be encouraged, people will be healed, families will be repaired, dreams will become reality, dark days will become lighter, the Down and Out will become the Up and Coming and Bling-Bling won’t mean a thing-thing!”
A second component is that “Jesus must be the reason” we invite or bring people to church. Returning to the Mark 2 text, Weatherall noted, “if our church is going to be relevant, Jesus must be the reason. It’s all about loving God and our neighbors.”
“Four men, knowing that Jesus was in the house, wanted to bring this man of the palsy to Jesus,” he said. “When was the last time you carried somebody to Jesus?”
But most importantly, the problem in Mark 2 was not because the house was full; the problem was that nobody wanted to make room for this man of the palsy.
“I’ve come to suggest that if we’re going to grow our churches, we’re going to need to make some room,” Weatherall said. “We’re going to need to scoot over, get out of the way, slide over, change pews, and get out of our normal seat. Somebody in the crowd, seeing a need, should have made room for this man of the palsy. Church becomes so ritualistic that the pew becomes ‘my pew,’ the class has become ‘my class,’ the title has become ‘my title,’ and the church has become ‘my church.’ I’m excited because these men did whatever it took to get the man of the palsy to Jesus. They didn’t make church excuses. They did whatever it took to get somebody to Jesus.”
Stepping up in faith is important because Jesus is praying for us according to John 17. “My friends your Cabinet wants you to know, these prayers aren’t just for apostles - or more to the point – apostleship isn’t reserved for 12 individuals who died thousands of years ago,” he said. “We are all called to be apostles, ambassadors, witnesses to the resurrection. Just as God sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. So we are asking you to step up to your faith.”