I recently had a conversation with someone who was bemoaning the fact that the property of the congregation I serve has roaches. The concerns ran from the understandable revulsion to these creatures, to concern over how others would see us if they saw one of the roaches. Don’t we care about our property and people? Aren’t we clean? Is this a place I want to be—or want my kids to be?
In a literal sense there isn’t much we can do about roaches. As our exterminator said, “We can’t guarantee you won’t have roaches—just that they won’t live long once they come here”. So, we keep a sharp eye out and try to keep things as clean as possible. The reality however is that we are on an old property and we just can’t stop them from showing up.
But this got me thinking. Even if we were in a brand new area where no one had roaches, we would. The reason is simple. We have people who have roaches. If we don’t have people who have roaches, why don’t we? Aren’t we supposed to reach people? All people? Even people with roaches? So what does it say if a church doesn’t have roaches?
And then there are the metaphoric “roaches”—the baggage that people bring with them. Homelessness. Mental Illness. Poor social skills. Anger. Drugs and Alcohol. Violence. Sexual Sin. Abuse. All of these are, in a sense, “roaches”— they are things we don’t want to see or deal with and certainly not have around us.
But people have roaches. And the church has a mission to represent Jesus to people with roaches.
So if we don’t have people with all of these issues, what does it say about us?
Real churches have roaches.