Whilst the sin that leads to church discipline (and, how we do that is another post for another day – but we don’t eject people from the church at the first sign of trouble) isn’t a cause for celebration, the fact that it has to be used again speaks to the fact that we are, typically, reaching and seeing converted people who do not know how Christians ought to behave. Which means such a church is reaching unbelievers, seeing them converted and then seeking to help them imitate Christ as they walk through the mess in which they find themselves.
I know this is the name of a thing already. This post really isn’t about that thing. If it wasn’t already a thing, I think this would be an excellent title of a book that buys into the current fashion of ‘[insert adjective] church’ titles that we all seem to want now.
No, this post is really about why your church should be messy. I was reading Tim Challies’ article from his archives on how healthy churches are not necessarily the ones that appear to have it all together, but may well be those we would characterise as messy. It would be worth your while reading that article before you read this one.
The reason I was interested in what he wrote there is that this has been an ongoing issue for us. Those who follow this blog will know that we minister in a deprived mill town in the North of England. You can read the ‘about this blog’ page to find out more if you don’t know about this already. But the issue for us is not so much that the church is messy – whilst we don’t rejoice in the mess itself, we rejoice that mess is coming into a messy church to a saviour who loves messy people – it is more with the people who come and cannot cope with messiness. Jesus came into the mess of our world in order to save it and, whilst many claim they want to be Christlike, are often unwilling to do the very thing that our Lord did himself. Funnily enough, such people are often very messy themselves, it just shows in different ways to some of the other people they would point at and label ‘messy’.
But I thought it might be helpful to lay out some of the specific ways that messiness might be a cause for rejoicing. Here are some ways messiness is not a sign of a spiritually unhealthy church, but one seeking after the Lord as they ought.
I am often wary of churches whose singing is pitch perfect, sung with gusto. Not that it’s wrong to sing well, of course. That’s great and it surely expresses that the people there love the Lord and want to encourage one another with all they’ve got. So, I’m not knocking that at all. But if everyone is able to smash out the tunes, possibly even without referring to their hymn books, it suggests that there aren’t many outsiders coming into the church.