Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                      November 3, 2008
It Will Be Messy
My Reflections
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Admittedly there have been times when I've read Acts 2 and 4 and have become awestruck. And I know I'm not alone. If I had a nickle for every time someone told me that they, too, wanted to be part of an Acts 2 community I'd be a rich man.
After many years of ministry here's something to tuck away: there's no such thing as an Acts 2 church. To freeze-frame the reality of church life into one moment in time would be the equivalent of taking a picture of you at your happiest and suggesting that that picture represented the totality of your life. That wouldn't be inline with reality, would it?

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Church life is messy: always has been, always will
It Will Be Messy 
Excerpt from Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
The family is...like a little kingdom, and, like most other little kingdoms, is generally in a state of something resembling anarchy.
G.K. Chesterton could have been talking about a little fellowship (our true family, because it is the family of God). It is a royal mess. I will not whitewash this. It is disruptive. Going to church with hundreds of other people to sit and hear a sermon doesn't ask much of you. It certainly will never expose you. That's why most folks prefer it. Because community will. It will reveal where you have yet to become holy, right at the very moment you are so keenly aware of how they have yet to become holy. It will bring you close and you will be seen and you will be known, and therein lies the power and therein lies the danger. Aren't there moments when all those little companies, in all those stories, hang by a thread? Galadriel says to Frodo, "Your quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true." (2003:197)
My Reflections
Yes, there have been days when I've wondered if I'm even qualified to give input into all things "church." Those days usually come when something feels amiss in either my house church or our corporate ability to make disciples. Sometimes I think, We're just not very good at this. And then I think, If I only had more energy, I could fix some of the things that ail us.
Although I do have the above thoughts from time to time, I'm able to let those thoughts go relatively quickly. After all, Paul the Apostle reminds us, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:10). And better still, Jesus told us that it is his church to build, not ours (Mt 16:18). Regardless, the reality of church life can be, well, less than what we'd hoped for.
The reason I'm writing this is for your (and my) encouragement. We have a tendency, don't we, to think that other organic expressions are doing it (whatever it is) better. If only I was in a house church with Neil Cole or Felicity Dale or John Eldredge...now that would be exciting! Or maybe we think, If we only had better music or prayer warriors, that would catapult us into Acts 2 status!
When faced with some of these thoughts, I quietly say to myself, Traver, when will Jesus be enough? When will you let go of trying to fix things, trying to make things better, trying to re-create an Acts 2 church?
For all kinds of reasons, humans like to move things toward an ideal; usually, that ideal includes a pain-free existence complete with worry-free relationships and ecstatic spiritual experiences. Conversely, our ideals generally do not include our discomfort and death. "When Christ calls a man," says Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "he bids him come and die."
Church is messy. Discipleship is messy. When things die, it's just messy. We'd all be wise to get use to it. On the other hand, we should all take comfort in knowing that Jesus has the final word for he is the resurrection and the life!
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table