We respect grit.
We just don’t think God is in the grit.
We think God is found in the glam.
I got discouraged the other day.
Urban church planting with a commitment to racial reconciliation in the Gospel and inclusion of the poor is hard.
Wanting to make sure we weren’t missing something, I called a man who is a spiritual mentor to many in the New City movement.
I told him about the grit and grind as we chase the vision of #GodsBlendedFamily.
I asked, “Are we doing something wrong?”
He responded immediately:
“No, New City’s not doing anything wrong. You’re church planting!”
I was reminded about God in the grit and our expectations of glam.
Glam gets our attention. We’re drawn to it, but it may not have substance.
For awhile, I thought the church would grow through glam. I realized that I didn’t know how to do glam, and our people weren’t glam.
Don’t get me wrong. We have some beautiful people. I love looking into their faces and hearing their stories. But our people have seen some stuff. They’ve been through grit:
Family members being deported or in jail. Counseling thousands of people through their brokenness. Grinding through learning another language in order to share the Gospel. Wrestling with oppression. Walking through divorce. Recovering from alcoholism. Lost jobs. No jobs. Can’t find a job. Spending every day with people in low income situations. Feeding the homeless every week at the same place. Working in a place that is hostile towards following Jesus. And last time I checked, 20% of our people were current foster children, foster parents, or were in the foster care system as a child.
The people of New City are way more grit than they are glam. And I love that about our church.
But if I can push a little further.
I don’t think God is against glam. In fact, when God shows up, it is usually pretty glamorous (as long as "glam" = "glorious").
Except when God comes in the person of Jesus.
Why do we think that God is present in the glam, but not the grit?
Do we so long for the glam that we’ll engage the grit just to grow our glam?
Are we using glam to grow a ministry, church or following?
Do we expect our churches to be glamorous?
If we think that God is only present in the glam, we’ll miss Him. He grows us and uses us in the grit.
If we engage grit to grow our glam, we're focused on promoting our glory rather than glimpsing God's.
If we use glam as our primary tool for ministry growth, we create the expectation of a continuous glamorous experience for people. And it is on us to keep up the allusion, running like hamsters on a wheel.
If we expect our churches to be glamorous, we’re dangerously close to the sin of partiality and designing a church for glamorous people.
But there’s hope when we long for glam in the grit.
At the very end of the Bible, God returns to earth and brings restoration.
And the grit of this world is gone.
He wipes all the grit right off of us and promises we will never have to walk through some stuff again.
But it is not just the absence of grit. God brings a radiant new city with him. It is glamorous in the purest sense of the word, made of rare jewels and pure gold. It is so captivating that John goes on and on about it.
And the lights of the city aren't street lamps, candles or flashlights, “for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
And we, as those who have walked through the grit in this present life, get to share in His glory in the life to come.
Glory is coming, but right now, let us remember that God is IN the grit and God IS the glam.
Don't run from the grit, bypass it, or think something is wrong when you live in it.
Grit is the normal way God works. And Christians operate in it now, knowing that glam will come.