Are pick-and-shovel prayers still tearing through God’s rooftop?

From Our Leaders

June 15, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 12
Kevin Barkowsky and Janette Thiessen | Mennonite Church B.C.
(Photo by Shchekoldin Mikhail, Shutterstock)

In Mark 2:1, Jesus teaches the word to crowds gathered at his home. (Most readers don’t realize this was likely Jesus’s house). Jesus didn’t want the crowds. In the previous verses he healed a leper and told him not to tell anyone. However, the healed leper couldn’t keep his mouth shut, which resulted in large crowds forming at Jesus’s house.

To make matters worse, some men started digging through Jesus’s roof, even though there’s no scriptural proof they got a building permit or even passed a motion about roof-digging through the disciples’ Mennonite Disaster Service Building Task Group.

As the paralytic was let down through the roof, Jesus saw the paralytic and his friends’ faith and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Was Jesus forgiving him for destroying his roof? Who do you think did the repair work after? At your congregation, who are the people who maintain the building, and how would they have reacted if this was done in the name of so-called ministry?

We are happy that Shel Boese is scheduled to begin as executive minister (EM) of Mennonite Church B.C. this August. For the past four months, MCBC has been on a temporary holding pattern regarding vision, because we want to work together to discern a shared vision for the next season of MCBC with our new EM. Therefore, if this roof-digging fiasco happened at MCBC, Janette, Kevin and Leadership Board’s response would be, as it has been for everything for the past four months, “Don’t fix the roof until Shel gets here.”

It will take Shel time to meet with each congregation and understand their dynamics as well as get acquainted with the corporate dynamics of the congregations as a whole. Along with a change in employment—moving from a pastoral role in a local congregation to that of leading a denomination—Shel and his wife, Anne, will need to find an MCBC congregation to worship with and possibly relocate to a different community. These are major life changes for Shel and Anne, and our prayer is that we can provide support and space for Shel and his family and not put unreasonable expectations on him to fix all our “broken ministry roofs,” at least not for a few days.

Mark 2:1-12 is not only a true story, it’s also a metaphor for prayer. Don’t stay on the edge of the crowd. Instead, do the diligent digging through “God’s roof” in prayer, and don’t stop until you are face to face with Jesus. After spending time with Jesus, you will leave forgiven and on your feet, walking into the world unable to keep silent about the healing power of Christ.

Thank you for keeping MCBC in your pick-and-shovel prayers. 

Kevin Barkowsky is the interim executive minister and church engagement minister for MCBC. Janette Thiessen is the office administrator for MCBC.

Read more From Our Leaders columns:
The idol of neutrality
Time to be a champion
‘Camp shapes people’ 
Jesus and the 4 Cs
Book recommendations from leaders

(Photo by Shchekoldin Mikhail, Shutterstock)

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