What if Messy People Came to Church?

Every Sunday morning, my little friend hops into the front seat of my van. She talks rapid-fire as she buckles her seat belt. Her pink cowboy boots swing back and forth a few inches above the floor.

Then she tells me where to drive. We’ll be picking up other children she has invited—or is about to invite—to Sunday School. I never know who they will be.

What if messy people come to church? Welcome them because we all have been messy.

This girl is amazing. Resilient and affectionate, she really “gets” the kids in her neighborhood. She gets the chaos, the unpredictability, the hidden hurts, and the joys that fill lives so much like her own. And she gets that in lives like hers, Jesus makes all the difference.

So she wants everyone to know Him.

She invites. All I have to do is drive.

Well, that and teach the squirmy, precious, crazy, delightful gaggle of kiddos who end up in my class.

What if we were all like her?

Last Sunday, a lady at church said, “All of us should be like that little girl.”

I nodded, right along with all the people who heard her.

We should all be out there among the people we “get”—and even those we don’t—inviting them to come find out why we’re so excited about Jesus.

Yet I wondered, “Do we realize what would happen if we were like that little girl? Are we really ready for that?”

I think it’s time to make sure we would be.

How would it look?

Different. Church would look different if we were like her. We would have to come expecting the unexpected. Come prepared to be bumped out of our comfort zone. Come prepared to live like Christians loving our neighbors.

  • We might find more coffee stains on the carpet.
  • Snacks for fellowship time might be raided by kids who had no breakfast. And maybe no manners.
  • We might hear someone speak words that could tinge the air blue.
  • Someone might wear an unusual . . . um . . . fragrance.
  • Attire might not match our unwritten code.
  • Behavior might not be “Minnesota nice.”
  • Somebody might sit in my seat.

Time now to prepare: loving our neighbors would disrupt our comfy church life.

Feed My sheep, Jesus said. And Jesus has some extraordinarily funny sheep. An Oswald Chambers quote.

What would happen on Mondays?

The visitors we sat with in church on Sundays would know our secret: We claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. We claim to aim for Christ-likeness. (Would they discover we’ve only been aiming for “church-likeness”?)

Those people would be watching for us to be the real deal. They’d want to know if Jesus really makes a difference on the weekdays. If we’ll act like Him on the sidewalk, in the classroom, around the water cooler. Behind the steering wheel.

They would be expecting us to love them at WalMart like we say we love them at church. They would have heard “faith without works is dead,” just like we did. They would want to see those “works” so they could know us by our fruit.

What would it take to be ready?

Such an onslaught against church-as-usual would take change. It would take growth.

It would take loving our neighbors as ourselves.

It would take getting serious about what Jesus wants of us.

It would take loving and adoring Him so much that we would do anything so others could know Him, too.

It would take getting used to being messy. Because people are messy. And if we’re honest, we’ll remember that we have all been messy. But Jesus is transforming our messiness into something He can use to rescue other messy people.

We have all been messy.
But Jesus is transforming our messiness
into something He can use
to rescue other messy people.

Go try.

Give it a shot. Take a good long look at the Lord Jesus Christ. Stand in awe of Him–who He is and what He has done. Then let Him grab hold of the edges of your comfort zone and see how far He can stretch them.

Just don’t be surprised if one day you look in the back seat of your van and see a little boy slap his arm and say, “I hate fleas.”


In what ways has God stretched you beyond your old comfort zone?
What have you seen happen as a result?





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