This past Sunday in church I shared a blog from Hal Hammons that had particularly touched me this week — especially given all that is going on with our Haiti relief effort. Several have asked for a copy of it, so I thought I’d simply include it on my blog. Here it is:
Some people are absolutely comfortable in their church home. They know their seats will be empty and waiting for them every week. Everyone knows everyone, and always has. The preacher will preach the same sort of lessons he always preaches, the same sort they’ve always heard. Everything is neat and tidy. Everything is in its place.
I feel sorry for those people. I really do.
I prefer messy churches. I want to be surprised constantly. I want to be inconvenienced. I want a different stranger to steal my seat every week. I want to trip over kids. I want to have to speak up so an older person can hear me. I want to battle through tough accents, burrow into tough Bible texts, field questions that have no easy answers. I want personal, social and spiritual challenges.
I know some of the issues in messy churches will be bad; some will even be tragic. Factions will arise and require exposure (1 Corinthians 11:19). Morality will grow lax and require correction (Galatians 5:16-21). It’s a hassle, no doubt about it. Lots of angst, lots of disappointment. But at least messy churches are alive. At least they have growth potential. I’d rather try to stave off false doctrine in a church than try to raise a church from the dead.
Proverbs 14:4 reads, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.” A lifeless church is a lot less trouble than a lively one, but you aren’t going to get much spiritual reward from working with a group like that. If I have the choice, I’ll exchange a clean manger for a sloppy one any day.