Sometimes great questions have uncomfortable answers. Recently I was asked the following question (paraphased) during a radio interview:
The church is supposed to be a safe place for imperfect people. But often it seems it’s more full of plastic and pretense than real, down-to-earth, in-progress people. How do we get the church to become a haven where real people can share their hard stuff, without fear?
GREAT question, a valid one. I told the interviewer so. Isn’t this what we all want? A safehouse where we can be fully ourselves, without shame or fear or threats of rejection?
All too often, however, I hear horror stories of how the church has been anything BUT this. I’ve had a few run-ins with this myself.
My answer, however, wasn’t what you’d expect.
How do we get the church to become a safehouse for in-progress people?
You and I have to go first.
We are the church, you and I. If we want things to change, we can’t sit in our bleacher seats, point out the bad calls and hope for a different outcome. We have to suit up, grab a bat, and play ball.
The church becomes what it was designed to be when you and I become who we were designed to be. That means if we want the church to be a safe place, we need to become a safe people. Men and women who love and embrace imperfect, in-progress people.
I can’t tell you how often I meet people who don’t think they can be loved by or used by God. Their reasons vary: a complicated past, an unforgiveable mistake, a physical disability, a mediocre education, a lack of skill. Whatever their reason, they can’t see beyond their lack to the possibility of a powerful God.
But here’s the deal: God uses imperfect people. All the time.
In fact, imperfect people are his favorite kind.
[callout]This is a short selection of an in-depth conversation Michele shared with a circle of close friends March 7, 2015. For background on the series, you can read about it here. If you’d like to watch the interview in its entirety (it’s just over 55 minutes), please click here for instant access.[/callout]
Do you struggle with believing that God could use you and your imperfect story? Why or why not?