My wife was talking with an older woman in our church who has been here for decades. The woman said, “Look at all these stains,” and pointed around the lobby carpeting. Linda acknowledged what was obvious (we have a hard time keeping up on it), and then the woman said, “And I love it!”
“What?” my wife asked.
“It means this place is full of people and it’s being used. I remember when we didn’t have to clean the carpeting very often. I like it better this way.”
Proverbs 14:4 says, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (NLT). For ancient farmers, if you didn’t have to clean out the stable, it meant you didn’t have any oxen to bring in a good harvest. Ancient people who had oxen to clean up after had reason to be grateful for the mess.
I thought about this last Monday as I was putting away toys. They were everywhere: the family room, the living room, the kitchen. I had the granddaughters all day, and without Linda around, I pretty much let them scatter their stuff. But as I went through the house putting away their toys, I thought about how much fun it was to have little girls in the house to clean up after. And I miss having to clean up after my own kids. (Well, we still have Brock on the weekends – haha.)
Pretty much anything worthwhile creates some kind of mess.
Ministry is that way. Maybe you’ve been in a church where there were no messes. People seemed to be living perfect lives with few problems. If that was the case, it was a boring church that wasn’t doing much of anything, and it wasn’t a New Testament church. Churches in the New Testament were full of real people who had messy lives and God’s servants were having to help clean them up…continually. We often say here, “Fishing is messy, if you keep the fish.” And here at The Bridge, we want to catch fish, and keep them. That makes ministry messy.
We have another saying, “Move towards the mess.” We have no intention of avoiding messy people. It’s what Jesus has called us to do, involve ourselves in messy lives. After all, my life was a mess when Jesus started cleaning me up, and I can still make a mess, even today. So our attitude is that if we are not having to constantly clean the carpeting, it only means nothing worthwhile is happening. If we aren’t having tough conversations with struggling people, helping people overcome addictions, walking with them through relationship struggles, supporting them in the midst of their doubts, learning to understand and help them with their hangups…then we are not doing much of anything.
The Bridge is not a place for a bunch of perfect people. It’s a connecting point for people to get to know the one who gave his life to clean up their mess…our mess.
Is your life messy right now? Welcome to The Bridge! We want you here and we want to help.
For our members, are you walking toward the mess? Are you inviting relationships that are uncomfortable, where you can intentionally be the church and help clean up messes?
Because, while we are glad the carpeting gets dirty, we also want to keep shampooing it. And that’s why you are here at The Bridge: Getting your mess cleaned up…and helping someone else clean theirs.