Perfect Place for Imperfect People

John Burke wrote a book named "No perfect people allowed".  This book chronicles his approach to develop an authentically welcoming place for all people.  His title, as well as his struggle, is a reflection of the tension of the Christian church today.  One one hand, we desire to mirror the actions and passions of Jesus Christ, with His otherwordly love and incredibly high ethic.  On the other hand, we want to be a place where people can connect with God.  People who have not experienced the love of Jesus and are ignorant of his moral standards.  What typically happens is that we focus on the morality of Jesus, to the exclusion of great commission hospitality.

What I am sensing in my own limited experience in trying to develop a culture where people can experience acceptance, significance, and security while growing and maturing in our faith, is that it begins with building a culture that has four elements:

1. Grace Extending over Judgment evoking:  We are saved by grace, we are provided for by grace, and we blessed by grace.  Grace is that unmerited/undeserved favor bestowed upon us by God.  Grace that comes from God's love for us, and not because of anything we have to offer.  Our first defense is often putting up the moralistic reasons why we should not share our lives and stories with others.  What if we simply extended the grace that we have received from God to others. 

2. Interaction over entertainment: We can come to worship services and have a great time, but not truly know the person whom we are rubbing shoulders with.  While proclamation of the Word is essential in the Jesus centered community, the monologue (sermon) is a way to facilitate that, not the way.  It is in the context of significant relationships where we are spiritually formed and develop life long bonds.  We are so accustomed to the traditional model of worship centered communities, that we diminish the need for real and substantial interaction.

3. Getting Real rather than religious.  People are hurting and broken and are looking for encouragement and affirmation.  Sometimes, our personal struggles are the template in which God makes a breakthrough in your life.  Although those struggles are personal, they are never to be private.  Your story is a blessing for another and their story may be Jesus speaking through them.  We want to be in control of our emotions and our image, but Jesus let go of both as he was stripped naked, beaten, spat upon, and neglected so that we could be blessed.  God redeemed the humiliation of Jesus, and through Jesus, He will redeem yours as well. 

4. Collaboration rather than competition:  We often, inadvertantly, compare ourselves to others.  We want to be well and blessed and there is nothing wrong with that.  Yet, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul saw the goal being a healthy community, not a healthy individual.  Of course, healthy individuals make upon healthy communities, but we need to be as concerned with our brothers/sisters as our own health.  This allows me to invest in those who circumstances are different than mine, knowing that others are also invested in me.

Are you part of a community that welcomes and champions imperfect people?  If so, leave a comment and tell your story!

Blessings,

Pastor M Traylor