Messy Church

Send a link to a friend  Share


My adult children still laugh and tease me about it, but when my wife and I were raising them as teenagers, I would often need to remind them that “Adulthood is this direction!” I did so because sometimes teenagers regress and act childish. Occasionally, we parents need to remind them, “Let’s keep growing here. Let’s not go backwards.”

The same could be said of the book of I Corinthians. The Apostle Paul watched a church become a messy ministry and writes them a letter calling them to grow up. “Adulthood is this direction, people!”

Now, no church is perfect! But wow, the early church of Corinth was about as dysfunctional as any church could be. It was marked with numerous difficulties, divisions, immature and carnal people, controversies, skepticism, and sin. However,
God still had a big heart for them, and Paul certainly wanted to see them mature in a way that would thrill the heart of God. Paul believed as messy as this ministry may have become, they could still be the church God dreamed of.

How does a messy ministry move toward maturity? Keep ringing the bell for purity. Keep ringing the bell for unity. Keep ringing the bell for God’s truth. Remind the people not to regress. After all, “adulthood is this direction.”

I don’t remember what year it was when I watched a TV airing of an old WWII movie titled The Dirty Dozen, but I do remember it was with my father, and we enjoyed it together. It is a film about an unusual top secret, pre-invasion, mission against the Nazi’s. The idea was to gather a small band of the Army's worst ex-soldier convicts, those awaiting court marshals, and turn them into an elite fighting commando team. Those felons who survived would have their sentences reduced and returned to active duty.

The only problem was these soldiers had a hard time banding together. For the first half of the movie, they were at each other’s throats. They squabbled. They backbit. They pushed each other around and threw a few punches. They distrusted each other's motives. As a result, they failed to see the best results. It takes a lot to get these men to
finally start working together smoothly, but it does happen. Eventually, they are sent on their mission, and with some major hiccups and the mission nearly being sabotaged, they get their act together and great things are accomplished.

The funny thing is, that pretty much could describe God's plan for His church. And, unfortunately, the first half of The Dirty Dozen pretty much describes the way it often works out for churches. It certainly describes the way the church was functioning (or malfunctioning) in Corinth. However, we can learn from their messy church.

Our winter sermon series is going to take us verse by verse through the book of I Corinthians. We’re going to look at what messy church is today and how we can move ourselves toward spiritual adulthood and functional ministry.
God gave us this material for a reason. He wants the church to learn and grow from the
experiences of the Corinth church. Starting in January and continuing through Easter,
we will dive deeply into the book of I Corinthians. Come join us!

[Ron Otto, preaching minister
Lincoln Christian Church]


Back to top