I Would Rather Have the Mess

When I entered ministry right out of Bible college one of my mentors wrote an article that has stuck with me for over 25 years.  He wrote a little devotion in the magazine for our brotherhood of Churches based on one odd proverb in the Old Testament

Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

There are two simple thoughts in this passage.  The first is that without oxen, you have nothing to clean up.  There is no work to gather and store food and no getting up early to feed them or staying up late as they give birth.  The manger and barn are empty, and life is easy. 

But if you want a great harvest, you need to have oxen.  If you own oxen, you can plant more and therefore harvest more.  Having an ox may require work, but the payoff is seen at the harvest

In his article, he then applied the logic of that proverb to the Church.  Having no guests at Church will keep the place clean.  If there are no children or children’s ministry, there will be no markers to clean up or dirty hands making a mess of the sink.  Having lots of people at the Church building each week makes a mess for someone to clean up after it is over. 

But if you want to see people come to know Jesus.  If you’re going to see lives transformed by the power of Jesus, it will require you to have people coming to the Church building.  

In other words, not having non-believers come to Church will keep things nice and clean, but the glory of a Church is when they are reaching new people for Jesus. 

So the question is, does the Church want to be neat and clean or have the mess that comes with ministry?  I would rather have the mess.

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