When we envision the kind of church that we want to attend, we often envision clean bathrooms, plush seating, and incredibly sophisticated music performances. We often see the church of our dreams as being made up of people that look like us, talk like us, and have our same economic and social background. When it comes down to it, our vision for the perfect church is to have a church that looks like us and talks like us. The more comfortable, the better.
When we stop and consider the kind of church that Jesus would lead, we see something different. If we’re honest, we might even admit that we don’t want to be a part of the church that Jesus would lead because the kind of church that Jesus would lead is, well, messy. Jesus’ church is messy. The bathrooms are dirty. The seats are broken or non-existent. The people that are a part of Jesus’ community are diverse and from a wide variety of walks of life. Some of them are prostitutes. Some of them are former prostitutes. Some of them are drug addicts or constantly drunk. Others sold drugs and are now loving the lives of those whom they used to destroy. There are sick people who have diseases that are “gross” and “dirty.” There are children running around everywhere. Tears abound where grace abounds. And there is a lot of anger and frustration, but Jesus keeps making all things new.
It’s enough to inspire the dirtiest and worst of sinners and enough to enrage the most self-righteous in any church.
A few of us are trying to figure out how we can be faithful, effective, gracious, and loving pastors to communities that are full of broken people. For some of us, long gone are the early plans of pastoring churches full of healthy people with no problems. For others, there is a strong desire to reach the world around us, despite the constant rejection of Christianity because it is too judgmental, too right-wing political, too hypocritical, and way too homophobic. What are we to make of the times we are in? Is Jesus’ church supposed to be easy and comfortable or is the kingdom of God where the rule and reign breaks into our world and creates a broken and fragmented community?
In order to explore and interact on these issues, we’re excited to start a new focus – messy church. We look forward to your thoughts as we attempt to engage Scripture, experience, culture, and a wide variety of other influences.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.