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Sep 14, 2014

Why Mosaic Is Needed in Downtown Spokane

Passage: Luke 10:1-16

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Why Mosaic?

Keywords: city, urban, commission, salt, light, mosaic, calling


This message looks at the unique role God's people in general and Mosaic in particular can and should play in the cities of our land.


WHY MOSAIC Is Needed Downtown?

Part 2

September 14, 2014

We’re in this short series this month entitled, “Why Mosaic?” Last week we took a look at why Mosaic…and God’s people in general in Spokane…need downtown Spokane. Would any of you care to contribute your answer to that question? [Solicit responses.]

This week we’re asking the question, “Why does downtown need Mosaic?” Perhaps a better way of putting that is not so much about Mosaic as it is about the people of God, the family of God, the church: Why does downtown Spokane need Jesus’ church at close range?

When we talk about “downtown Spokane” or the “heart of our city”, we’re not talking about buildings or parking lots, corporations or banks. We’re talking about PEOPLE-- the 5,000 people who live in and close to downtown Spokane. According to the non-profit Downtown Spokane, housing downtown is expected to increase by 300-400 units every year for the next 20 years. That’s like building that many new homes in the part of Spokane you might have commuted from today. And there is a strong potential shift in demographics away from lower-income groups and seniors to higher-end empty-nesters and younger professionals in the days ahead.

            Why do most of the downtown residents live downtown? Well, the answer to that question varies greatly. If you are talking about the “new demographic” of “higher-end empty-nesters and younger professionals” cited in the study I just mentioned, their answers might sound like what?

  • Convenient
  • Like the urban life.
  • Tired of commuting and want to be close to restaurants, entertainment, shopping, etc.
  • Low/no maintenance living
  • It’s hip!

But if you are asking those on the other end of the economic spectrum, currently the majority of people living downtown, what will they answer about WHY they live here?

  • Lack transportation and this is the hub of public transportation.
  • Lower rents are more affordable.
  • Government subsidized housing.
  • More social services more easily accessible here.
  • Live on the street.
  • May be limited in housing options due to past criminal records.

There are any number of reasons why people live downtown. But the reality is, the demographic make-up of downtown is the reverse of what most neighborhoods and communities in and around Spokane look like, at least socio-economically. It’s sort of an inverted-bell curve when it comes to who lives and works here. That in itself presents some unique opportunities and challenges. While people are people and we all (under the surface, at least) struggle with very similar internal challenges of meaning, significance, inferiority, hopelessness, loneliness, a longing for peace, joy, love and a host of other things, the reality is that those two populations don’t usually or naturally mix real well.

            So what we see when we look at the church downtown is pretty much that reality. Without disparaging any Christ-centered ministry or part of the Body of Christ here in the core of our city, if you walk into most churches on any given Sunday, you will usually see a pretty homogeneous congregation.

  • If you walk into 1st Presbyterian Church today, you will find mostly middle and upper middle class, South Hill residents in attendance. You won’t find a lot of lower-income, downtown resident folks. (Same for the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes and Westminster United Church of Christ by L.C.).
  • On the other hand, if you walk into City Gate just a few blocks from 1st Presbyterian, you will find mostly lower-income/no-income people worshiping there.
  • And if you come one more block east to the Pilgrim Slavic Baptist Church, while you may find more middle class singles and families, you’ll also find them speaking Russian…which tends to limit the congregation pretty significantly to Russian immigrants and their families here in Spokane.

So what on earth are we trying to do here at Mosaic? Are we trying to break the sociological rules of who people relate to? Are we trying to do the impossible? Or are we just trying to do something that has always been God’s heart, was what the early church experienced when God moved on them and will require a miraculous work of the Spirit of God to ever pull it off? YES!!!

Mosaic believes that God’s family and God’s work is at its best when it embraces in equal manner ALL the socio-economic, educational, ethnic and age diversity God has called to himself. When God’s people actually love God and one another enough to not allow the differences of class or economics or ethnicity or careers or education to divide us, we may just catch the attention of a culture who is disillusioned with the divisions “the church” is so often famous for.

So to the question, “Why does downtown Spokane need Mosaic,” we can answer, “Because God wants the people of our city to see the power of Christ to unite very different people into one genuinely loving spiritual family.” That will take a work of God. And frankly, there will be lots of God’s people who won’t even venture to try it let alone do the hard, sanctifying work required to grow into it. I commend every one of you here today for believing that God’s kingdom can come and God’s will can be done “on earth even as it is in heaven.”

When we pray those words, do we really understand what we are asking? In heaven, there will be more diversity than any of us can possibly imagine. Yet too many Christians run from God’s answers to their prayers!

Downtown Spokane needs Mosaic because it needs to see and experience something only God can do, something that isn’t very visible in most expressions of God’s church in this community. In short, they need to realize that the kingdom of God is at hand.

I was reminded of this just yesterday. I received a call from the mother of a woman who used to be a part of Mosaic about 4 years ago. Jackie’s daughter, Heather Higgins, used to sit right in the front, stage left. She was a woman in her late 30s who had lived on the street at one point but had recently gotten her own place on the lower South Hill. She had struggled with mental illness and I believe drug addiction at some point in her life but was now healthy and helping other homeless people learn to get on their feet.

            She went missing four years ago this month (Sept. 2010). She was a part of this very diverse body of Christ followers we call Mosaic. She was the kind of person who helped other people see that God’s kingdom could come and His will could be done on this earth, dark though it is.

Which brings us to our main text for today. Luke 10:1-16.

 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

There is far more here than we will be able to look at today. So let me just point you to a few of the things Jesus tells us that gives us answers to “Why downtown Spokane needs Mosaic.”

Downtown Spokane needs to see Christ-followers who are obedient to Christ’s calling and commission.

Just what is that “calling” or “commission”?

#1. It’s a commission to “ask the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers” into the fields.   That seems like a funny place to begin increasing the harvest, doesn’t it. If you just got hired by a farmer to drive his John Deere self-leveling, GPS mapping, air-conditioned, surround-sound wheat combine and the first assignment was, “Go back to the guy who hired you and ask him to send more combine operators into His fields,” what would you think?

            Well, we’re not talking air-conditioned, self-leveling, comfortable John Deere combines. We’re talking hand-cut, hand-picked, hand-gathered, in the hot sun harvesting.

Just like the shortages many farmers are facing when the migrant labor force is limited in the orchards of Washington State, so the kingdom of God is facing a shortage of people willing to actually GO out into the fields and harvest rather than hang around the barn playing with the air-condition tractors. What would you think of a farmer who had a slew of powerful, shiny, amazing tractors and combines who hired a bunch of people who, all they did with those machines was drive them as fast as they could around the inside of the barns or raced them from one barn to the next???   But isn’t that what most of the church all of whom have been commissioned to “GO” into all the world to make disciples, is doing? We’ve become experts at developing amazing church machinery that roars around inside amazing church “barns” we’ve built without ever harvesting a single acre of field or tree of apples.

ILL: Years ago I used this very illustration to challenge the pew-sitters in another church here in town to get off their backsides and get out into the harvest field. The result? The church “lost” a couple of really passionate, gifted women who responded by starting new ministries or taking up responsibilities for existing ones and making them blossom. One was Off Broadway ministry that now has been serving some of the most needy of our city in the West Central area for some time. The other was Anna Ogden Hall that is in that same community but brings long-term transitional mentoring and care to homeless women and children of Spokane.

#2. It’s a commission that is dangerous.

Vs. 3-- Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Being the church is usually not the most dangerous activity most Christians in American do every week. But it just might be if you are obedient to Christ’s call to “go” where the harvest is.

I’m afraid most of the American church has forgotten that being a light in the darkness can be dangerous business. Storming the gates of hell can be dangerous. Being a city on a hill or a lamp on a lampstand can cost you. Jesus never promised that going into the harvest field would mean that the most dangerous thing you have to do is brave the latte line at the church coffee bar.

ILL: I was reminded all to graphically and soberly of this reality this past week. Many of you know Charlie Greer. He’s our bar church planter in downtown Spokane. I don’t know of anyone in this city who is trying to do more in a much darker place than Charlie, his wife Lisa and their small core team.

            They’ve been holding services in the 412 bar (412 W. Sprague) for several years. He’s made inroads into the lives of people most churches don’t even know what to do with. The owner of the building is an openly gay man. But he’s asked Charlie to manage his concerts and do church free of charge in his building every Sunday.

            Recently this same man asked them to move across the street to a lounge across the street above one of Spokane’s gay bars. So last week, Charlie and his team did an advance recon run into that space.

            It’s not a space that is unknown to Charlie. He’s done some construction work in there before. But it is also a place known for its paranormal activity. In other words, it’s “haunted”…inhabited by spirits, Jesus would say.

            Most Christians would run as far away as they could get from a place like that. That’s interesting considering that Jesus took an entire day’s side trip across the Sea of Galilee just to have an encounter with a demon possessed man who had a legion of demons (6,000 + by Roman standards).

            Charlie shared with us this week…from his hospital bed…some of the strange things he’s personally experienced in that place—voices in the bathrooms when no one else is there, items being moved from one place to another, collections of “white things” appearing in front of the safe in the room.

            One of the reasons this place has such demonic activity is that for decades it served as a brothel. So little wonder that the Enemy has simply turned it into a gay bar, right?

            So this week, Charlie and the team decided to take back some territory for the Kingdom. They went in there, shared communion and had a time of praying which included asking for God’s protection as well as binding the forces of darkness.

            As soon as they started to pray, the lights began to flicker, pop, buzz and any number of things. Everyone saw it. Charlie was led to get bold about it. So he began to cast out the spirits and called on God to make a perimeter of protection around the outside of the building. As soon as Charlie started praying, the lights in the room got twice as bright as they had been all afternoon and stayed bright.

Just as he finished his prayer, he said it was as if someone shoved a knife into his lower back. He shot out of his chair in pain.

Most of you know Charlie, at about 6’7”, has suffered for many years with bulging discs. Doctors have been trying to postpone a back fusion surgery for years.

Well, that was Sunday. By Tuesday he was in the hospital with excruciating pain. The MRI reveals that he has another bulging/ruptured disc. He was supposed to head out on tour with some bands this week, a job that generates a good chunk of his annual income. Instead he is bed-ridden, in severe pain and waiting for the medical machinery to decide whether or not they will do surgery or just pump him up with more steroids.

[Prayer Team needed Sundays from 2:30-4:00.]

Lambs among wolves. That’s what Jesus said obedience would involve. The commission of Christ to “go” into the towns and cities where He is about to move is not a safe assignment. Maybe that’s one reason the laborers are few and the harvest is plentiful. It’s a lot safer to hang around the barn and race the tractors in the pen.

[PRAY for Charlie and the ministry?]

Look at verses 4-7: Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

There is a lot more here than we can study today. But what is clear from these commands?

#3. It’s a commission that is not to function based upon our own strength or resources; it’s to be utterly dependent upon God to work with the people He wants us to go to.

            Doing ministry downtown is WAY beyond our means. It costs far more than any other place in town…and we’re not a well-to-do congregation.

ILL: I was talking with a pastor-friend out in the Valley who was telling me they picked up a huge commercial space for $5.00/sq.ft. That’s one third the price we have to pay downtown to lease space!

            But God didn’t say, “Well, you can go into the harvest field of downtown Spokane IF you have a bundle of cash, a nice building to meet in, great video equipment and a financially stable core. If He sent his hand-picked 72 out and specifically told them NOT to take extra anything nor even a backpack of extra things, it’s not inconceivable that He would ask us to do a few things downtown here that we don’t currently have the resources to pull off, right?

Now look at verses 8 & 9. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

Two actions and a message. What are they?


1.)    Accept the friendship and provision offered to you.

2.)    Heal the sick who are “there”.

Message: ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

#4) Here’s the fourth truth of this commission. Obedience to Christ’s commission must involve personal relationships, divine power and the simple Gospel.

Here are some of the most important reasons why downtown Spokane needs Mosaic…needs Seaside…needs more of God’s church invading the darkness here.

            Our government is a world leader in providing money, food, health care, housing, just about any form of entitlement program you can think of BUT in a way that is almost always impersonal and frequently demeaning. Being economically poor has a way of isolating people much like illness has a way of isolating a patient. And just throwing money at a problem does not answer the deepest longings and needs of people.

            God calls his disciples to get personally involved with the people He sends us to. For the 72, that was to involve living WITH and eating WITH the people they were sent to bring the gospel to. This is incarnational living. This is God’s church on mission.

            God knows that there is a dynamic that happens when people live and eat together. I think that is why the Alpha Bible Studies are so effective—you’re sharing a meal together. I think that is why Community Groups that share meals together are stronger and more powerful than groups that just meet together at a certain hour.

            We’re not to be like traveling salesmen, hocking some spiritual wares in a hit-and-run fashion and then moving on to the next stranger or neighborhood. We’re to let people see our lives from sunup to sundown. In fact, this passage would seem to indicate that WE need to come at ministry from a point of personal need, looking to those we are sent to by Jesus to provide something of our own need. (There’s a different ministry paradigm for urban ministry!)  

To the component of personal, incarnational relationship, Jesus adds divine healing. It’s interesting that with all the advances in modern medicine, just about everyone at some time needs healing that doctors can’t provide. And just as poverty can happen in any area of life, so illness of soul or heart or mind are just as real and debilitating as physical issues.

            I’m no fan of the Benny Hinns and Peter Poppoff “faith healers” of the world who seem to see the Gospel as a means of enriching themselves. But disdain for abuses was never a good motive for negligence. God calls us to pray for healing, to ask in faith and to cast our every care upon Him who truly cares for us.

            Asking God to heal the hurts and weaknesses of their lives is one of the most powerful means by which we can both release the power of God into people’s lives and help people to see God at work. God isn’t interested in raising a family of children who are addicted to demonstrations of His power or miraculous events. But neither is He averse to letting people see His hand at work over the power of sin and death.

We’re not told HOW the 72 were to heal the sick. I assume they simply did what they had seen Jesus do. That’s not a bad model to follow. What have you seen Christ do to bring healing to you or those around you? Then maybe that is all God’s asking you to step out in faith and ask Him for with those he puts in your path.

Next week we will talk a lot more about HOW we might best minister to and help the core of Spokane. But when it comes to life, everyone needs healing of some kind and at different times. Let’s not shy away from the “sick” and infirmed of our city. They may be the very ones God wants to be the recipients of his healing power in any number of ways.

The message Jesus’ disciples were to give was, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Even if the message and the messengers were refused (vss. 10-11), they were to remind the people that “the kingdom of God has come near.”

            This phrase “the kingdom of God” is something much larger than we can get into this morning. Certainly the presence of Christ was part of the kingdom of God coming near. Certainly the Gospel itself was part of the kingdom come near. The tense of the verb (present indicative) indicates that it was a very present thing—it was happening right then. Yet Jesus wasn’t there; his disciples were.

            Yet here is the amazing thing. In vs. 16 Jesus goes on to tell them that how people would respond to them as heralds of the Gospel would be considered on a par with how they would treat Jesus.

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

            This is rather sobering. If we are truly engaging our city with the healing power of Christ and the soul-saving message of the Gospel, then rejection of us is tantamount to rejection of Christ. And rejection of Christ is actually rejection of God.

That is precisely what Paul says he is doing as Christ’s ambassador or representative here in this world. In Second Corinthians 5:20 Paul tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

It is not enough to simply help people get well. It is not even enough to show people the miraculous power of God without the miraculous message of the Kingdom. We are called to TELL people about the Kingdom and the King. We are commanded and commissioned to bring the news of the Kingdom to people in a way that either enables them to become part of that Kingdom or reject the King.

            That is why this community and city needs Mosaic and every other Gospel-living and Gospel-proclaiming disciple and church of Jesus.

  • It isn’t enough to just feed people meal after meal after meal as so many organizations and even “churches” do down here.
  • It isn’t enough to give them a place to stay at night, as important as that is.
  • It isn’t enough to provide clothing and sleeping bags, bus fare or even employment.
  • Nor is it enough to build a church in the center of this city that helps wealthier, self-sufficient people feel more spiritual, better about themselves and their lives lived for themselves without confronting them with the Gospel of Christ that demands we die to self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.  

We must present Christ and His claim to Lordship over the lives of everyone in this city. We must combine the powerful works of the King with the public call of the King to stop being a rebel and start living in obedience to Christ. Spokane needs a visible body of people who are learning to do that well. It needs to hear, feel, taste and see the reality of Christ in the context of a very diverse group of people while being challenged to respond personally and passionately to the call of Christ.

[Gospel invitation.]

Sometimes I wonder if what we are trying to do is just too hard. It’s hard enough to interest people in considering the claims of Christ on their life in the cleaner, quieter, more comfortable suburban church in America. To get people who work 40-60 hours a week, shuttle their kids from school to sports to music lessons to tutoring to counseling 5 days a week, who have homes they are trying to keep up, yards that don’t make their neighbors embarrassed, have every electronic device available to distract them any moment of the day and a hundred great civic causes to be involved with…to get these people to come to this part of our city to experience God together and reach out to a community who appears to be so different from them (but in reality is more like them than we imagine), seems overwhelmingly impossible to my human spirit.

            The reality is, it is impossible…unless God is doing something out of the ordinary in our lives…which is precisely what God is known for doing. Unless God so moves our hearts and calls us into a journey with Him that we would never take left to ourselves, this dream of God’s people transforming the heart of this city will not even survive as a dream.

But I believe for many of you that is precisely the dream God has placed in your life. I believe there are many more followers of Christ in this city who are ready for just such a dream. I believe that God is in the process of showing that His Kingdom is coming right here in the darkest streets of this city through people like us who are willing to die daily to self so that we can live daily to Christ.

At times the dream may seem far away. At times it may grow dim. But I want to challenge each of you: obey God’s call to the city. Preach the Gospel to this city in word and deed. Show people by our lives submitted to Christ and our love for each other, diverse as we are, that they must make a decision about Jesus too. And even as we come to this place and go to our city in service, may we pray that God will send more people into this very harvest field we are laboring in here at Mosaic.


  • Are you praying for more of God’s people to catch the vision and hear God’s call to build a ministry that invades this city?
  • Are you inviting others to join you on the journey? We will need many more people to push back the gates of hell in this place, to get out of their comfortable barns and jump into this city for the harvest.
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer