Stinky Church

There was a popular series a few years ago for church leaders called, “Sticky Teams,” “Sticky Church,” you get the idea. I actually liked most of what was shared, after all we do want people to “stick” when they come to our churches. However, at times much of what we in, swallow for the “gospel” of church growth just doesn’t quite line up with what Jesus said.

I want my church, and yours to grow, be a powerhouse for redemption and hope in our communities. I want all of us to be healthy, happy, and hopeful that our local church will be a place where lives are changed, where people begin to follow Jesus with passion and finish their race as in love with God as the day they took their first step. And there is no end to the “professionals” that will tell you exactly how to do that.

One of the things we are told we must do is clean up the mess. I have to be honest…I hate mess. I like a clean building, clean classrooms, clean restrooms, clear & simple instructions, and a neat service with everything in place. I do not mind interruptions as long as they are meaningful, intentional, inspirational and …clean. I like things clean. But people are rarely clean…enough for some among us.

In Proverbs 14:4 we read, “Where there is no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.” In other words, where you have a bunch of restless animals gathered into one location, if there is any strength in them at all, you will have a room full of crap. That’s right. No crap, no oxen. It comes with the territory.

Since I like smooth clean stalls, this verse is not my favorite. Much like Martin Luther wanted to excise the book of James from the scripture, I would like to delete this one. However, I didn’t have the last word.

Yes, we want people to “stick” with us. We want a sticky church. If your stall is empty, you’ll have a clean stable. Just beautiful. Something to show off. But if you want some raw material to work with, you won’t get that without the stink. And after all, that stink does stick. If there’s enough manure shoveled into the right places, that stink can become the key to an “abundant harvest” That smell? It’s the fragrance of heaven, the kingdom of God (Matt. 22:9-10). Don’t fear the funk, go get you a stinky church!

About Tim Holt

Founding pastor of Seacoast Vineyard Church, Myrtle Beach, SC. Retired January 2021. Pastor to surfers, friends, pastors, etc.
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3 Responses to Stinky Church

  1. Carl says:

    I vote for a stinky church, although it is the antipathy to the preference of most pastors. Just like those that work in the nursery need to clean up messy diapers, pastors need to pastor churches. I read the “Sticky Church” book and I hated it..(I know, strong word). I suffocated me. To deliberately “kill off” anything except small groups that were sermon based seems to fly in the face of freedom of the Spirit. I used to tell my people “I’ll give you permission to do what you think the Spirit is telling you if you give me permission to correct you”. If we want God to visit us, we can’t dictate the rules, and when He comes, we can’t be upset that He did something different than we expected.

  2. Tracilee says:

    Just wanted to say I really like this. Want to share with a friend. Also thought, God likes the old hay cleaned so we can get something new from Him. God gives clean fresh hay , new each day and we manage everyday to make a stink so it has to be cleaned again. I truly do give thanks to God for all pastors willing to be stable boys. Miss you and Karen much.

  3. timholt says:

    Thanks, Tracilee. The church is made up of people – beautiful, broken, tired, sad/happy, hopeful, people. We forget, as pastors, sometimes that we are those same people. Indeed, fork out the old hay for some fresh one! Thanks!

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