Serving Broken People Is Beautifully Messy

“I’m not broken. Get off my Facebook.”

Our church uses a lot of sponsored Facebook posts. Aside from attenders bringing friends, it’s the primary way that people in Northwest Arkansas discover us and check us out on Sunday. One of our posts referenced an upcoming message about brokenness, and that comment was left by someone annoyed that our ad showed up in their newsfeed.

I’m OK with that. I don’t like annoying people, so we always apologize and offer a quick instruction for removing us permanently from their content stream. But I have to respectfully disagree with the comment’s author. There are actually two kinds of people in our culture.

1. Those who are broken and don’t know it or won’t admit it.

2. Those who are broken and do know it.

There are no unbroken people. Of this fact, Scripture is quite clear. It may help for me to define what brokenness is all about. We’re all broken because of sin. Universally, we’ve walked away from God, which has left a crack in our identity that can only be cured by the blood of the cross via repentance. And almost as universally, most of us are also broken by the sins of others who have hurt us, intentionally or not.

Jesus was pretty clear about brokenness. Just read the beatitudes. Acknowledgement of our brokenness is the only way to get started healing.

Here’s the problem. We don’t like to talk about our brokenness. It’s painful. It’s awkward. It opens us up to judgment and criticism. If we start a conversation about it, things will get … messy.

When we start talking about brokenness and sharing authentically about our struggles, suddenly people start showing up, and they aren’t all the neatly packaged perfect people we’d prefer. And they’ll bring their friends.

And when they show up, they’ll want counseling.

They’ll look for small groups that are safe places.

They’ll expect sermons about real, actual issues with solutions found in the cross and in repentance.

They’ll want to hear from teachers who acknowledge their own imperfections.

Ministry to broken people is messy. And there’s no more beautiful ministry to be involved in! In fact, we leaders, we teachers, we pastors need it way more than we’re willing to admit. It’s the best way to extend the ministry of Jesus through the church as we “bind up the brokenhearted.”  

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Brandon Cox
Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.