Tough Sunday? 8 Reasons EVERY Church is Messy

Tough days in ministry—even days that make you want to quit—shouldn’t surprise you.

tough days

Maybe you had a tough day at church yesterday. Or, perhaps you had a great day, but you also know that a hard day is always a possibility. Tough days in ministry—even days that make you want to quit—shouldn’t surprise you, though. The fact is that every church is messy. Here’s why:

  1. We’re all sinners. Just because we’re saved doesn’t mean we don’t do sinful things anymore. Our choices and actions only contribute to the mess.
  2. Some people are still nonbelievers. Even Jesus had a nonbeliever among His 12. Our ratio of nonbelievers to believers is not likely to be much better. Messy people are among us.
  3. The gospel is intended to reveal messiness. Think about it—that’s precisely what the gospel does. It shatters our prideful exteriors and reduces us to our messy core. If you preach the gospel, there’s some messiness you should welcome.
  4. All of us are in process. God is daily conforming us to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). That means that we all have room for improvement, and none of us has reached the goal. Messiness is one result.
  5. There’s an enemy in our midst. Satan has attacked the people of God from the beginning, ever striving to cause interpersonal conflict and false teaching. He’s a master mess maker.
  6. We’re still figuring out how to do discipleship. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s true in many, if not most, churches. As long as we’re still learning how to grow baby believers into maturity, we’re going to be messy congregations.
  7. We’re not likely to be better than the early church. They were messy. Really messy. They argued among themselves and fought over spiritual gifts. They tolerated sin too much. They abused the Lord’s Supper. They allowed false teaching to infiltrate their congregations. If they were messy, we likely will be, too.
  8. You and I are there. I could have listed this reason as #1 and stopped there in making my point. I’m messy. You’re messy. In fact, be honest: We’re actually messier than our church family usually knows.

Here’s the good news, though. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ—the church for whom Jesus died—is still mysterious, magnificent and miraculous. It’s a mess, but it’s a beautiful one.

Be encouraged.

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .