My messy church

George asked a great question today:

Darryl, could you boil down in a nutshell what it is you think Christ’s Church should be doing in the world today. Just in our own little (or big) local church. I’m just curious. I haven’t been to your church yet but am looking forward to attending in the near future and I look forward to meeting you. I have been reading your blog for some time and am grateful for how it has enlightened me to all the different views that are out there with respect to the Church, and how it is we can be effective in our world today. I personally want to be part of a church that desires to be used by God to bring the Good News of the Gospel to a world that so desperately needs to hear it. A church that does not compromise on God’s truth as He has revealed it in His Word. You post a lot of different clips from articles, comment on them and solicit responses. I could be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but I don’t really know from reading your blog what it is that you believe the church should be doing to reach out to the world. How should we do that? What methods should we employ that would receive God’s blessing and really make a difference for Christ? I’m just curious what your view is on that.

George is basically asking, “Darryl, would you please stop deconstructing the church and tell us what you stand for?” He said it a lot nicer than that, but it’s an entirely fair question. To answer it is to share part of my journey. When I criticize things, it’s often because I’ve tried them and found them wanting. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. At times in my ministry, I’ve probably made every mistake I speak against. In short, I’ve been a program director. I’ve bought into the church growth stuff. I’ve preached messages that I would now consider to be shallow. I’ve probably made every mistake out there. I’m probably still making more than a few. But here’s where I am today. I don’t think it matters if your modern, postmodern, emerging, big, or small. It’s not at all about any of these things. I think it is, in part, about being broken. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we’re all broken. The ones that God seems to use most powerfully are those who have learned they’re broken, and have stopped pretending. I long to be part of a church that knows it’s broken and messy, and isn’t pretending. It’s also not about methods. You can use programs and methods, but they’re not the point. I’ve found programs generally unhelpful in my ministry because then I start to rely on them instead of God. They often keep me busy and make me feel like something is happening when it isn’t. But programs aren’t wrong in themselves. It is largely about the feel of the place. Ron Martioa calls this leak. You quickly sense the ethos, the culture, the feel of the group. I long for a group that isn’t perfect but that seems to be giving off the right kind of energy – caring, honest, real, dependent. Hard to describe but easy to sense. Some of us (including me) have got the Gospel wrong. It’s not about building churches or about a truncated view that gets people past a certain point and they’re in the Kingdom. It’s about following God, together, with all of our lives. It’s about dying to self, being captivated by the things that interest God. It’s about following God together, no matter where he leads and what it costs, with our messy lives. When this happens, we will be outward focused, and we’ll have something powerful to offer the world. I could say much more, but this is a start. I see what’s happening around the world, and I’m a little jealous because we’re not experiencing the vitality that many non-Western churches are. I want that, but I’ve often found that it’s people like me who have gotten in the way. Books like Morph, An Unstoppable Force, Making Sense of the Church, and The Present Future help flesh this out for me. Bill Easum asked a question today on a discussion list I subscribe to: “Well, all of this banter on this subject is good, but when reality sets in most if not all of us are in a church and if we threw them all away, another set of sins would emerge.  So, the real question is what are we going to do about it?” That question humbles me because I’m not sure I’ll do any better. But this is where I am, right now, on my continuing journey. I welcome your thoughts.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada