I just finished reading The Rooftop: A Crisis of Opportunity by Dennis Pethers. This book came into our hands in such an amazing way that we know God was orchestrating it. Todd and I attended the North Carolina Baptist Convention Annual Meeting last November in Greensboro. We registered quite late and were very excited that there was a booth available for us to exhibit as Around The Corner Ministries. It’s not that easy to be invited, and so that was an answer to prayer.
We arrived on Sunday evening and went to check out the exhibit hall where we would set up the next morning. Todd noticed that right next to our booth there was a ministry called “The Rooftop.” That night he found their website and began reading about what they do. This ministry was started by Dennis Pethers, who lives in Essex, England. Listen to their mission:
Joining Jesus in His Mission: ‘To seek and save what was lost’
The Rooftop is a global movement that is giving Christians a new passion and desire to Join Jesus in His Mission. To see lost people as Jesus sees them and then, with Christ-like compassion, to tell them the good news and make disciples of people who are beyond the walls of the church.
One of the things they are doing now is holding city-wide meetings with pastors from all over the city to cast a vision for evangelism. They have a unique method! Born out of Peter’s “rooftop experience” in Acts 10, they take the group of pastors up to the highest point in the city and a time of prayer and listening to what God says about reaching the lost. Something amazing happens as God moves in their hearts to show them their city and inspires them with a passion to go beyond the walls of their churches in creative and effective ways.
On Monday, we met John Whaley, the National Pioneer for Rooftop US. He and Todd have so much in common (I won’t bore you with the details), but suffice it to say, they immediately connected with a like-minded passion for the gospel. No coincidences here; God definitely and intentionally planted our booth right where it needed to be.
The book I read by Rooftop’s founder tells his personal testimony of how he came to Christ and how God called him to evangelism. As he grew in his faith and began visiting and speaking in churches, he began to develop a passion for reaching people who don’t know that they don’t know Jesus. He gives an example. We don’t define people who don’t play bingo as “unbingoed.” So why do we define people who aren’t in church as “unchurched” when church is not even on their radar? We are living in a post-Christian world, where the majority of people see no need for church, but we are still doing evangelism as though everyone still has a moral conscience, a Judeo-Christian ethic, and an awareness and respect for God. If we are going to reach people, we have to do things differently. Believers have to catch the vision that the church (believers themselves) must go to where people are. We must act like believers, live like believers, and speak about the One we believe in, in our neighborhoods, workplaces and everywhere unbelievers are.
Pethers writes in a down-to-earth style, with humility. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers, and he makes clear that he is not down on the church. His desire is simply to stir up the body of Christ to look around and see who is right in front of them. He wants churches to start thinking creatively about how they can intentionally equip their body to reach the lost, and to step out in unique ways, to take Jesus to those who don’t even know they don’t know!
There were quite a few memorable things in this book; here are few quotes that stuck with me:
“Saying that we want to reach the lost is not necessarily the same as the reality of actually doing it.” (Ouch!)
“What is the more difficult? To get people outside of church interested in Jesus, or to get people inside of the church interested enough in people outside of church to tell them about Jesus?”
“Do we want Jesus to bless our mission or are we seeking to join in with His?”
“When revival comes, lost people won’t be lining up to get into churches; Christians will be lining up to get out.” (as in “out” to tell people about Jesus!)
“Evangelism is leaving the person I have met with a better understanding of God than they would have had if they had never met me.”
Pethers does a great job of making his case biblically and casting a vision for the solution. But he doesn’t leave us without offering some practical ways to implement what he’s been talking about. In the last chapter he describes several ways that churches in different parts of the world are creatively going where lost people are and sharing Jesus in tangible ways. He calls this section “Church Outside The Walls.”
We are excited about the mission of Rooftop and believe that God is speaking the same message all over the world. We pray that God opens up many doors for “rooftop experiences” in cities all across our nation, and that the church will become a mighty influence for the gospel as a result. Personally, I’m challenged to live purposefully and intentionally and creatively, so the people around me who “don’t know that they don’t know,” will come to know Jesus!
You can find out more about the mission of The Rooftop on their website: https://therooftop.org/