12 May, 2010

The Ghetto Church

There are those in the community where I live and pastor who have dubbed Harvest Church as the "ghetto church." They mock us because we don't have the newest, fanciest building to worship in, and even go so far as to criticize our church by saying things like, "they'll let anybody attend there." There are those who criticized us because we have ex-convicts in the church (hello... I'm one myself!), people who have come from the streets and known drug addicts, and so on.

When I first heard the term "Ghetto Church" I was offended, but the more I have thought on it, I wear the title of Pastor of the Ghetto Church with joy and gladness! Face it, Harvest Church is a household of faith made up of misfits. Does that term conjure up a mental image of societies outcasts and those that are down on their luck? Those who have walked through hell in their life-time? Well, guess what, that is us! Yes, we have former drug addicts (and a few who still use) and we have those who have been to jail, those who come from broken homes and those with life stories that would read like a movie on the Lifetime network. We are in fact largely made up of those who are outcasts and forgotten... the misfits if you will.
But you know what? I believe that is exactly who Jesus came for! Jesus said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do." In the eyes of society and the religious, we may be misfits, but in God’s eyes we are not so badly fitted at all. We are people who have found meaning and purpose in our lives through Jesus Christ.

I was sitting and thinking about all this today and I was reminded of the old animated movie "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" where there was a place called the Island of Misfit Toys. These toys were made all screwy, and did not work quite the way the other toys did. There was one toy on that Island that always stood out to me. It was the doll with no name, who seemed on the outside to have nothing wrong with her, still nobody wanted her because she had no name.
How many have ended up on the "Island of Misfits" because they had no real sense of identity?
At Harvest Church, we have a whole lot of people like that. They may not have been "on the streets" or drug addicts or have all the tats or piercings or war stories... but they were wandering aimlessly in life with no sense of identity until they found Jesus Christ and Harvest Church.

Take me for example. Yeah, my life got pretty messed up and I took the wrong path that led me down the road of drugs and booze, crime and prison. But much of my life could be summed up in the fact that I was always a "misfit." Convention has just never suited me at all. I was never one to just "go with the flow." Crud, I dont just march to my own drummer … I do my own drumming and then march to that beat! Well, actually I don't march... I dance because I dont like to march. To march means conforming to what everyone else does, and I just don't do that well.
I don't know, but I have to think that maybe that's why God called me the way He did. I mean, someone has to be able to get into those really weird places, and be able to talk to people of the more strange sort. I can do that!

The fact is that God really had to work on me and do a work in me to really open my heart to receive from Him first. I think this was the hardest thing for me. I had to overcome the sense and feeling that I did not deserve His love and mercy. OK, let's be honest, most people feel they dont deserve anything because of what they have done... or not done... or what they are... or are not. For me personally, the biggest obsticle that I had to overcome has been in finding the confidence that I could receive. I mean, I heard the Word... and I wanted to believe. But I felt that I did not deserve it, and if I did receive forgiveness I'd just screw it all up and blow it. That's what I always did in life, right? So, why should this "walk with God thing" be any different? I just knew is was a matter of time before I screwed it up. And truthfully, there were plenty of those deeply religious folks standing around just waiting for me to blow it, and they'd tell me that they were watching and waiting for the "real" Darrell to show up again.

Well, I've tried this walk with God thing, and I've found that God can help me... and even when I do blow it and mess it up and miss the mark... God is so much bigger than me! And He is faithful to forgive me of my sin if I will just confess it to Him. This faith walk, this journey has been such an exciting adventure and more and more I am discovering that He wants me to be blessed more than I want to be blessed! People dont get that part about God. But I find it easy to understand, not being of the ‘normal Christian’ sort. God is King, and Lord, no doubt about it... but He is not hard to talk to at all!

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that no one in Harvest Church seems to fit according to religious and social norms... but im finding that to be a tremendous asset.

If you are in the Galesburg area, I invite you to come check out the "Ghetto Church."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm, a great testimonial. "They'll let anybody go there."

What will they say next? "You are the friend of sinners?"

I would take out a newspaper add using "We've heard that people say:
We love sinners
We let anybody attend here.
We're just a group of people who love God and want to love others.
Know what?
They're right.
Come be part of us.

That could be a big boon.