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  • Without going into detail about the purpose or point of chapter 4 in Darryl Dash’s How to Grow, allow me to simply share an excerpt:

    “One of the beautiful things about Christian community is that it's messy. I love watching ordinary people bump against each other with their quirks and questions. It's awkward, but it's beautiful. Don't look for a polished church in which everyone has it together. In fact, run from that church! Look for a church community that allows people to struggle, and where there's evidence that the gospel helps people in the middle of real problems. Watch how Jesus changes people who are working to stay in tune with Jesus, and who then find themselves in tune with others who follow Jesus too.”

    Having allowed me to unceremoniously share the excerpt, now allow me to make 3 arbitrary comments on said quotation:

    1. I love people who love the church. Dash recognizes that Christian community is beautiful, and its beauty is multi-faceted. This is not pie-in-the-sky Pollyannaism. In the very line where he address the beauty of Christina community he confesses the messiness of Christian community. But it is clear, Dash loves the gathering of the faithful. And those people who love the Bride resonate with me. On the question of the importance of the church, pastor and author Mark Dever says, “Why is the church and church involvement so important? Why does it matter so much? … the basic answer is because the church is God’s idea. This is God’s plan. When you start reading the Bible and becoming familiar with God’s Word, you find that God has always worked corporately. It is amazing … From the very beginning God intended to show his character by people interacting with each other… God in the Scriptures has never been simply about me and Jesus, about my own personal intense devotion to Jesus.” No, God has never been about that. He has been about community. And it is a beautiful thing.
    2. Mass is mess. Sometimes I’m tempted to tweak a Scripture verse. For instances, in regards to the messiness of community, specifically Christian community, one could take the NASB rendering of Matthew 18:20 and change it a bit. The original sates, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Well if tweaking Scripture was allowed we could go with “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their mess.” But we don’t tweak Scripture, so let me just affirm Dash’s position in saying that we ought to expect things to be messy, and the messiness of brothers and sisters in Christ is beautiful.
    3. “Don't look for a polished church in which everyone has it together” is solid advice. I call these polished types “shiny, happy people.” R.E.M.’s hit song declared, “Shiny happy people holding hands/Shiny happy people laughing.” Hearing those lyrics always made me think of church people putting on the façade of everything being nigh unto perfect in their lives. I have an internal inclination not to trust those types of people. My people are bedraggled and beat up, war torn and worn out. If you look like the dog’s breakfast, we can roll. If you think you’re the cat’s pyjamas, I’m out. And that is probably self-serving because I will never fit in with those who have it all together because I don’t. But I have Jesus, and I have his disciples. And we aren’t perfect but we are leaning into God’s promise that he will conform us to the image of his Son and that one day we will be perfect. Until then, I’ll take the mess that comes with the mass.

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