Scripture Text: Mark 6:35-44
1. The year is 1910…
a. It’s been 68 years since Jesuit Missionary Father Pierre-Jean Desmet came to the shores of the great lake to become the first person to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Coeur d’Alene tribe…
i. He met with them on the same site where, 36 years later, US Army Fort Sherman was established, bringing the first Protestants to the area like Annie Warner, who started a Presbyterian Sunday School at the Fort’s Chapel which, one year later, grew into a mission church called First Presbyterian Church – the first church to be established in CDA.
ii. By 1890, the first church building outside the Fort was 1stPres, built on this very location: 6th & Lakeside.
b. More churches were soon to
i. Episcopals and Methodists also had established ministries at Fort Sherman, and built their buildings in 1892 and 1894 respectively.
c. The next decade saw the establishment of
congregations and, soon after, the construction of churches for First Baptist Church just up street on Lakeside, St. Thomas Catholic parish, First Church of Christ
Scientist, the Christian Church of CDA, Trinity Lutheran Church and the Seventh Day Adventists of CDA Coeur d’Alene itself was growing beyond just a village attached to
i. Prichard’s Survey revealed the vast mineral wealth in the area. A rail line connected the town to the Union Pacific main line in Rathdrum. John Lieberg’s Federal Report on vast stands of white pine was triggering a lumber boom. The County Seat moved from Rathdrum to CDA.
ii. By 1905, the population of CDA had grown from 500 to 4000 people.
e. By 1910, 1stPres had gained over
100 members in just three years, had moved from being a mission to a self-
sustaining church, had a succession of strong pastors, and was getting ready to replace the 1890 wood-frame building with a more substantial structure with a gymnasium basement, bell tower and stained-glass windows.
f. The following year, the 30 year pastorate of Dr. RJ Hunter would begin, which would see the church grow by another couple hundred members, a Who’s Who of prominent early
community leaders with last names like Sander, Noble, Fernan, Dollar, Boughton, Reid, Bancroft, Young, Elder, and Nelson.
2. It’s been a pretty standard blueprint for a long time.
a. A church is created by gathering up a critical mass of people committed to each other, but then a pastor needs to be hired to lead them, and a building needs to be built for the church to meet, hold worship and have programs.
i. They’re both great to have. Both are useful tools for a congregation to stabilize, establish an
identity, and grow in ministry.
ii. This church has been blessed with great pastors in the past, and a great church building.
b. But both are also very costly.
i. It was interesting to read through old minutes and financial reports of 1stPres. Little teeny budgets in the early days had most of the offerings going to missionary work. Then pastors were hired and buildings were built and the budgets grew exponentially for salaries and maintenance.
c. And, sometimes, the hiring of pastors and the building of buildings comes at the cost of the church’s missionary zeal.
i. New members are now seen as needed to spread the growing costs of doing church around, and less and less to fulfill Jesus’ call to share the Good News and demonstrate God’s love with as many people as possible.
ii. And Christians sometimes tend to see their dedicated, full-time professional ministers working so hard and let them do the ministry for them; and they attend church in the beautifully appointed church building and stop seeing the importance of the mission field outside.
3. Jesus, as far as we know from the Bible, never was paid and never built a church.
a. And in his training of his disciples, the initial core group for the church – he discouraged their reliance on people and things to do their job for them.
b. In Mark 6:35-44 we read the story of how a large crowd had gathered to hear Jesus proclaim the Kingdom of God, and it was dinner time.
i. Read Mark 6:35-44.
ii. The Disciples seem to feel that solving the food problem is Jesus’ problem -after all, he’s in charge. But he doesn’t bite. He says, “YOU give them something to eat.”
iii. Nor does he let them send the people away to a place which has been built for feeding people. They need to do it right now, right here.
c. Jesus teaches through this Parable to us today that the most eloquent, anointed, skilled Pastor of all time and in all the world is a poor substitute for YOU and YOUR calling to share the goodness of God with the people in your life.
i. And the most beautiful, well-constructed and useful church building of all time and in all the world is a poor substitute for US and wherever WE ARE as a gifted, empowered, loving, servant-hearted people of God.
d. And just as with the bread and fish in the hand of Jesus, when you bring what you have to Him, right then and there, he miraculously transforms it into what’s needed, what’s perfect.
4. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am really grateful you decided to have a pastor! I feel like I play an important role here, and I hope we will continue to invest in a staff team dedicated to supporting and equipping this church to keep serving and keep growing.
a. And I’m really grateful for this awesome building, its strategic location and how much useful space it has. I hope we will continue to update and expand the building to fit our mission.
b. But if I was suddenly abducted by aliens and shipped off to Mars you would still be the church, 100%. And if this building was smooshed underneath a new condo
high-rise, you would still be the church, 100%.
c. When all is said and done what you need to be the church is yourselves, living for God, freed by Christ, filled with the Spirit.
5. You are Christians, and we are the church, because what I say here and what we do here serves to help you be the church and embody and demonstrate Jesus out there in the world.
a. My dream, is that I serve as a Pastor of hundreds of pastors: people who are ministering, blessing, preaching, teaching, praying, caring, counseling, and leading in their marriages, families, with their co-workers and neighbors.
b. My dream is that this Church Building has hundreds of satellite churches in the community where dynamic serving, caring, feeding and worshiping is being done: in
homes, workplaces, restaurants, coffee-houses, clubhouses and schools.
6. There are 168 hours in a week. Most of you spend one of them with me, here at 521 Lakeside Ave. Where do you think the mission of the church is happening the most? In the 1 or the other 167?