What does the church look like? For some it looks like stained glassed windows and stiff wooden pews. For others the church looks like a museum of the self righteous. But there’s another picture I’m learning to enjoy more and more and need more and more. Church is more than a weekly gathering of staring at the back of graying heads. Church is the visible presence of Christ on earth. It’s interesting that one of the key descriptions in the NT for the church is family language. Brothers, and sisters. Family all the same. Another way I like to think of the church is duct tape and mullets.
In 1998 I became a follower of Jesus. I went “to church,” really for the first time. I didn’t know the church was the people, not a place. I had no idea of the mission the church was called to, no clue of its historic importance or it’s profound impact on the world. Over the years my understanding if the church has deepened. From a place to a people. From a weekly gathering to a mission minded people called to serve and demonstrate the love of Christ. But I’m getting a head of myself here. Back in 1998 the church was foreign to me, weird, and strangely familiar. I didn’t know the lingo, I didn’t know the secret hand shake, or the protocol. I didn’t like to sing. I didn’t like to sing in public. I would sing I the shower, and in my truck, but thankfully no one could hear me, except for God and he must of liked it, because now I was in an intentional community with people who sang their hearts out to The Lord. I still prefer to sing in the shower. And yet with as weird as the church was to me as a new believer, it was strangely familiar. It was family. Before I became a Christian my family was “church” to me. My family was a place of acceptance, love, intentional community, full of imperfect people held together by a common bond. It was duct tape and mullets. A sticky connection to the past and present and imperfections and quirkiness that speaks to our unique shaping and creational intent of our Master Designer.
Today we had several opportunities to be with the church. From the High School Bible class I teach, to the Children’s Bible hour we led this Sunday, to two meal times with the church today. I see the same duct tape and mullets when I’m with my teens at Northeast. They aren’t a perfect group, but they love Jesus and are learning what it means to love one another one day at a time. They are held together by a common story. They are imperfect and yet loved. My wife and I taught children’s worship today. I love the energy and enthusiasm of these kids. They are squirrelly and hungry for God. They don’t always listen to our words, but we sing together and have a fun time doing it together. Isn’t that the church? Joy and wonder, purity and mischief. It’s duct tape and mullets. It doesn’t get any better! We got to eat together twice with the church today. Lunch was a potluck. We had a variety if dishes. The young and the not so young sitting down for a meal. We swapped stories, had seconds, laughed a lot and corralled little ones to their Lads and Leaderette practices. Tonight, we once again dined with our community of faith. We had a chili cook of. All kinds of chilis were brought in. All kinds of people sat around tables tonight all part of the ongoing story of God’s work in the world. Laughs were heard. Stories were shared. Hugs were given. Little one’s played and danced.
It’s nights like tonight that I feel closet to the family of God. I see past and present coming together as a group of saints seek to do life together. We are imperfect people held together by a common bond, attempting to live in intentional community. We don’t have it all figured out. But for the body that meets at the Northeast Church of Christ we are duct tape and mullets. Duct tape has staying power. The church does too. Mullets, party in the back and business in the front, is this not a picture of God’s people connected as family. Jesus people should be about his business, which seemed to be about throwing parties for people who otherwise weren’t invited to parties. Jesus threw parties for losers, the sin-sick, the weary, the worried, the worn out, the down and outs, the depressed, the demon-possessed, and the outcast. We are a people of acceptance, love, intentional community, full of imperfect people held together by a common bond. We have a sticky connection to the past and present and the imperfections and quirkiness that we bring to the table speaks to our unique shaping and creational intent of our Master Designer.