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Is the church for misfits?

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in blog links, community | 13 comments

Is the church for misfits?

Dan at “Cerulean Sanctum” has written another excellent post called “Misfits of the Church.” (If you remember, a few weeks ago I linked to another great post in my post “People want real examples of organic church life.”)

In this latest post, Dan asks about “misfits” in the church – as you can tell from the title of his post. Who are the “misfits”? Well, according to Dan, these are people who just don’t “fit” into the current programs or organizations of the church.

He describes some of these misfits:

The one who creates beautiful art but who is told she can’t display it in the church building.

The one who hears from God but who is told such words are not appreciated.

The one who can see the roadblocks preventing growth and ways around them but who is despised because he is not ordained.

The one from the “rough background” who is forever limited by those who cannot put aside what he once was and did.

The one who failed once and will never be given a second chance.

The one who doesn’t agree with every denominational position and so will never be considered for leadership.

The one who warns people, who prefer the status quo, of the dangers ahead.

The one with great vision who is surrounded by those with little or none.

The one with many flaws but who loves people abundantly and unconditionally, just like Jesus did.

The one who is always serving, though not with the imprimatur of those in charge, and who makes them look bad for doing so.

As Dan says in his post, people who fall into the categories above – and many other categories – often “leave the church” because they do not fit in.

Dan ends his post with the following statements and questions:

I keep encountering more longtime Christians who are giving up. They’re not abandoning Jesus; they simply don’t know how to fit within the typical church. And it’s not for trying. I know these people have tried. But they’re weary of always receiving the left hand of fellowship, and they despair of ever contributing their God-given gifts because The Church™ does not want those gifts or it places ridiculous qualifications on their use that have no basis in Scripture and every basis in human selfishness and pride.

We talk, talk, talk, and talk about community in the Church, but what kind of community do we really have when someone is told to stop being the person God Himself is making him?

The Kingdom of God is filled with misfits, so how come our churches aren’t?

I want to echo something that Dan said above: the kingdom of God is filled with misfits. In fact, in a way, we are ALL misfits. Unfortunately, many church organizations have been designed for only a certain kind of misfits. Other misfits are too misfitted to join in.

Like Dan said, there’s a huge problem with that.

Can you think of ways that churches can open themselves up to other kinds of misfits?


13 Comments

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  1. 2-13-2012

    Good recap, Alan. I used a home spun parable today to speak to some of the same ideas. If we are restricting church to certain types of people we encourage a type of spiritual inbreeding that will hamper our effectiveness.

  2. 2-13-2012

    It’s nonsense to suggest that those who don’t agree with “every denominational position” are not considered for leadership. The Church’s heirarchies are full of such people. Some think that is the problem.

    “the Kingdom of God is filled with misfits, so how come our churches aren’t?” They are! Look around you.

  3. 2-13-2012

    I recall hearing a message once from a pastor that played on the word welcome. He said “you are not well…come here”.
    I thank God I am a misfit.
    Jesus said in John 18:36 (KJV) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
    We are aliens and we should stand out. The church should encourage the body to look more like Christ, not more like each other. We are, after all, CREATURES, and are designed individually by God, not popped out of a denominational mold.

  4. 2-13-2012

    I agree with the comments of Dan & Alan, the body of Christ is made up of all types of people, yet united in one common thread, the redemption in and by Christ. May we collectively lay our agendas, theories, and pet passions at the base of His cross, and learn to love.

  5. 2-13-2012

    Alan

    Not just particular doctrinal statements but formal membership covenants. You have to toe the line and play by our rules or you simply are not welcome to contribute. Makes you wonder how many really gifted Christians sit muzzled in churches because they think outside of the creedal box.

  6. 2-13-2012

    Alan,
    I’ve experienced a fair cross-section of the wider church during my lifetime, from the pew to many years in ministry.

    What Dan suggests is certainly not nonsense.

    I guess it depends on how we describe a “misfit”.

    Those who hold their statements of faith, and their church covenants as sacrosanct, will determine that a “misfit” is one who does not fully subscribe, and dares to question.

    The above “misfits” often have a similar determination of the word: “misfits” are those who don’t subscribe to their particular viewpoint.

    Then there are the “misfits” who want the Scriptures to be their sole authority for faith and practice.

    Aaaah! I’ve found the square hole into which I fit!

  7. 2-13-2012

    First, staying relevant is crucial. Everything from music to “production” and yes, we do “entertain” the body (Ephesians 1:6 the word beloved in Strong’s means to welcome and entertain) must be relevant. After all we must draw the lost in and shiny bait works. We are FISHERS OF MEN are we not?

    Secondly, the body must live this scripture: I John 4:7-10 says, “My beloved friends: let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.”

    When a church really loves, the body will grow. Room will be made for different, because God’s people have a commission, and that is to go and preach the gospel to all the world- it only makes sense that the inside of a church should look like we have been to all the world and seen harvest from there.

    God is no respecter of persons. Color should not matter, social rank should not matter, gender should not matter. The only thing that matters is our personal relationship status. ( I cover this in my blog today. http://ayearinthespirituallife.blogspot.com/2012/02/relationship-status-update.html) Do they know Christ? Then there is room.

    Finally I will remind us of this parable:
    There was a woman who needed something from Jesus, and she asked. Jesus replied that he did not come for her, but for a “certain” people. She knew she needed Jesus and she said even the dogs eat the scraps from the master’s table. Jesus said she had a great faith. What a revelation! Jesus is for all. (Matthew 15) So we should open our doors to All!

    Whoa to the man or woman who turns anyone away from salvation because they had a tattoo or a piercing, because they did not fit some pre-conceived notion of what we think fits in with what we are doing at a particular church. Like Jesus, we should be about the Father’s business, and he came for the harlot, the money-lenders and the gentile on top of coming for the Jews. We should not judge what we can not see (the heart) by what we see on the outside (the tattoos) We do have to answer for how we treat one another you know?
    So 1- stay relevant, and 2- walk in love.

  8. 2-13-2012

    Jim,

    You said, “May we collectively lay our agendas, theories, and pet passions at the base of His cross, and learn to love.” What a great exhortation. Thanks!

    Arthur,

    I think there are many reasons that Christians “sit muzzled,” and you’re probably right that being the wrong kind of misfit is one reason.

    Aussie John,

    I’ve found that misfits come in all shapes and sizes, just like you’ve said. And, God works through those misfits in so many different ways. What a beautiful and diverse body Christ has!

    Dayna,

    Great follow-up comment! Thanks for answering my question.

    -Alan

  9. 2-13-2012

    I think churches can open themselves to other misfits by actually closing their doors to the business they operate.

    I only know of one church that fits everybody … His name is Christ.

  10. 2-14-2012

    Swanny,

    That’s one of the big problems. We often associate church with our organization… whatever that organization looks like.

    -Alan

  11. 10-28-2013

    “The one from the “rough background” who is forever limited by those who cannot put aside what he once was and did.”

    That is me to a “T”. When I tell my testimony to people who are active in church (pastors, lay ministers, and members), I am often snubbed. I have had conversations end abruptly (I mean, without even saying goodbye or anything)when I tell what and who I was before Christ cleansed me of my sins. You see, I was a Satanist. And not this church of Satan stuff, I mean I was for real. I was a very mean and deeply hurt person. The Lord allowed for me to slowly turn toward Him, but when I asked, HE WAS THERE! I experienced 2 Cor. 5:17. I founded a nonprofit Inc. (which God gave to me, the lawyer did the work pro bono and even paid the filing fees to the state and IRS). I have completed and received a diploma in Advanced Biblical Studies (thru Liberty University), I have been Licensed and Ordained. But all too often other Christians prefer to act as though God couldn’t save a wretch as me.

    I will admit that I have been hurt by all this, but can talk, reach out to, and minister to people who would never even set a foot in the door of a church. These are the marginalized members of our society. They, like I was, are simple lost! They need the Saviour, plain and simple. I have tried to fit into the “standard” most churches require, but I was not truly welcome, even then.

    There is such a need for the “misfits” to be reached, welcomed and disciple. And they should feel as free to worship the Lord. Thank you for this post.

    God Bless

  12. 11-9-2013

    Brian,

    I think the church (the people of God) will experience tremendous growth (in spiritual maturity and perhaps numerically) when we realize that we are all misfits. When we begin to look on some as more able than others, then we are missing the point of the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    -Alan