By Pastor Nathan Richardson, Heartland Community Church

The Messy Church…
I am a Pastor. I love the Church. But I will be the first person to admit that the church is a messy place.  At its best, it can be a safe place of hope and healing. People attend church to feel connected to God and also other people. This is where it becomes messy. The church is the people, and wherever there is a group of two or more people things will never be perfect.
I continually hear stories of how people have been hurt by the church. Each story saddens me. I know a guy who is a big guy. He has to special order his clothes. My friend does not attend church that often but one day he decided to go. My friend went to church wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants because this is what he feels most comfortable in. He sat down and from behind him he heard, “Can you believe he is wearing that in church?” I am not sure what prompted this lady to say this or how the church has come to the assumption that someone has to wear specific clothes to be able to connect to God? Like a tie and jacket or skirt can enhance my love for Jesus. I am not sure if my friend has been to church since.
Churches can have the perception of being very legalistic. Some people believe that Christians shouldn’t drink, dance or chew or date others that do. It is time for us as the church to drop these preconceived notions that anyone can be saved by what they do rather than the grace of Jesus. No one can earn salvation. You cannot gain merits and when you have done enough good have a place reserved for you in heaven.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
So if you are a person that has been hurt by the church or someone in the church, I want to apologize on the church’s behalf. I am sorry for how you have been treated. Please do not view the whole church from your experience. Christians are not perfect and it is time to apologize for our imperfection. I pray that you will find forgiveness and be released from this burden that you feel. I would encourage you to put on a t-shirt or whatever makes you feel comfortable and attend a church this weekend.
If you would like to share how the church has hurt you please come by Heartland or call me at 319-540-5727. I would like to hear your story and apologize for your experience.