Marrying a Broken BrideBy Trillia Newbell | June 25th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
At my church we practice the art of “Not Done Yet” testimonies. What I mean is every time someone shares their testimony one thing is always beautifully evident: they ain’t finished yet. When people are baptized, they share their story in front of the whole church: not done yet. We do testimony videos, sometimes salvation stories, sometimes just aspects of faith: not done yet. If there’s one thing it’s okay to be at my church it’s okay to not be okay.
You would think with a mantra like that The Village Church would be a place where folks walk around with their limbs hanging and their hearts bleeding out, but it’s not. It’s okay if it is the case, but for most of us it’s not. Not anymore at least. There’s something about being in church where our struggles are not minimized, but neither are they maximized; our struggles are not ignored, but neither are they lauded. The gospel is preached as already finished and not yet finished. And so too our testimonies: we’re in, but you can stick a fork in us, we’re not done.
A few months ago the communications team asked me about doing a video testimony on my issues with church membership. Word had gotten around that the issue of church membership was a sticky one for me and had led to a full myriad of questions, eventually leading me to doubt my salvation, the legitimacy of the local church, and ultimately God Himself. But you’re all better now, right? the assumption is. After all, I’m in, there’s a file with my name on it, and my signature at the bottom of a paper saying, I am all in here. So do a testimony, wouldja?
I was surprised they wanted my testimony because, see, I am in. All in. I’m all in until something pushes against me and threatens my personal space or my preferences. I’m all in until I want to move somewhere else *tomorrow. I’m all in until someone does something I don’t like or leads poorly or yells at me for being me. For being…not okay. I’m all in until I’m not.
A few nights ago I had dinner with my pastor and his family. We watched while the youngest swam two inches under water, the oldest talked about horses, and the middle regaled us with stories about a renegade superman. We talked about life and areas where our theological camp could do better, where our church could do better, and where we could do better. We talked about a time two years ago when he stood in front of eight or nine hundred of us, lay leaders serving in active ministry, and repented for a number of things. I remember sitting there in the sanctuary thinking, “He says it’s okay to not be okay, but he must really mean it if he comes out in front of us and says, ‘Hey, what I did was not okay.'”
Church membership is not cool these days. It’s partially not cool because it’s one of those things that never clearly show up in the Bible. It takes a fair amount of conjecture to say “This is how we’re going to do it.” That was one of the things that pushed me away from it several years ago—that and a heavy residue of anti-authority dirt clinging to me. It’s not cool to be committed, all in, to anything, and especially not the local church. The local church is full of hypocrites, poor or brash leadership, broken men and women, faulty programs—why would anyone want to attach themselves to that in name and signature?
Because more than ever I’m convinced the bride of Christ could use a good dry-cleaning. Her dress is torn, her veil is crooked, her hem is ragged, her flowers are wilted, her heart is sore—and I know how that feels. I do. More than anything these days I feel my disheveledness. I feel my poor and weariness. I feel my half-doneness. I feel it broken and always off.
But to whom else would I go?
Like Peter standing incredulously before Christ, “To whom else would I go, Jesus? You have the words of eternal life.”
So I am in covenant with my local church because my local church is just one part of that broken bride. And that bride belongs to her Groom. And I will attach myself to that, boldly, firmly, confidently, because eternity is not today but it starts today, with this, with people who are not okay and a Savior who is the only okay.
More about Lore
Lore Ferguson‘s name is pronounced Lor-ee, but you can call her Lo. She grew up on the east coast, but transplanted to Dallas a few years ago—she’s not from Texas, but Texas wants her anyway (as the song goes). It was the Church that drove her away from Jesus and it was the Church that brought her back in, and there’s nothing she loves more on earth. She writes regularly for The Gospel Coalition, Project TGM, Deeper Church, and most regularly at her blog, Sayable. Lore is a covenant member at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. You can follow her on twitter here: @loreferguson