Here’s the deal, I might have been born at day, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I was “that kid” whose whole life revolved around the church. I went to a Christian school…that was in the basement of the church. I played basketball almost every day of the week in a gym…that was located on the church property. I played softball…guess where? That’s right, on the church’s softball field. I learned how to be a musician…at the church. I volunteered my time during the summer…well, you’re starting to get the picture…at the church.
Now, all these years later, guess where I’m writing this blog post from? In case you dosed off in my opening, gripping remarks, your first and only clue will be…at the church. Needless to say, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in my life at and in the church, both as a spectator, and as an active participant. By the way, the role of an active participant is so much better than just being a spectator. I’m just sayin’………
I often marvel at the various perspectives that people have of the church. Like, “it’s too good for me” or “it’s not good enough for me”. Maybe you’ve heard people say things like, “it’s just a group of perfect people, I could never go there”, or, “they’re a bunch of hypocrites, I don’t want anything to do with them”. Clearly, as I once read on the internet, “opinions are like arm pits, everyone has them, and most of the time they stink”!
With that said, don’t be surprised if you one day realize that your church might be messy. I’m not talking about the general upkeep, and cleanliness of your facilities, I’m talking more along the lines of it being a little spiritually messy. I tweeted a few days ago that “Something is #notquiteright if you and your church are only looking for “good” sinners.” Honestly that tweet, and the scripture (Proverbs 14:4, KJV) “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox., inspired me to address this issue.
- Growing churches are messy churches. “Good sinners” just might not exist. In fact, if anything, that term is an oxymoron. Don’t get me wrong, there are really good people out there, but if they’re not saved, then we, as the church, should do everything within our power to reach out to them. So, if you constantly have the unchurched visiting your church, and plenty of seekers in your audience, as well as new believers, trust me, things will get messy from time to time.
- Messy churches are good churches. After all, if there weren’t any “sinners” out there, would there be a need for churches? If your church is like my church, we love to have messes walk through the door. In fact, we could probably even say that our church is full of former messes! And that my friend is what the life of Christ is/was all about!
- Pray for more messes. Maybe this is where we should specifically ask God for the kind of messes I’m encouraging you to pray for. The sewage backing up and flooding the church basement isn’t exactly what I have in mind. But, our prayer should be along the lines of “God, send us people who are hungry! Send us those whose lives are wrecked by sin. Lead us to the messes out there, so you can’t transform them into successes!”
Proverbs 14:4 has always reminded me about the function of the church. Sure, if you have much oxen in the barn, the place might stink a little, but once upon a time, those stinkin’ beasts were directly related to growth, success and the livilihood of those who brought them into the barn! I hope you have messes, because those messes mean that you are reaching the masses!
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