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Renew your passion for this beautiful, hot mess of a bride Jesus died for.

I love parachurch ministries (ministries like Campus Crusade for Christ, Lifeway, Hope Pregnancy Center, etc.). They play such an important role in the kingdom, coming alongside the church in a beautiful way to serve our communities. I’ve done ministry with parachurch organizations, served on leadership boards and pointed countless people to them as viable, vital organizations.

But I have distinctly chosen not to work at a parachurch. I have nothing bad to say against them. Nothing at all.

But I understand where God’s called me to lead and serve, and it’s in a local church.

Recently ,I sat down with the VP at a large Christian organization, and he pitched me a job offer. It was a sweet gig, and the twist he threw my way was, “This is the chance to serve not just one, but to serve thousands of local churches through your work here.” It caused me to take a step back and evaluate who I was and what God was calling me to.

In the process, I realized how much I love the local church.

I saw just how much I adore the local expression of the body of Christ. I received a renewed passion for this beautiful, hot mess of a bride Jesus died for.

Six reasons I love the church:

1. It’s messy.

Local church work isn’t neat and tidy. Ever.

If it grows clean, that means you’re not doing the work of evangelism … or you’re disengaged from real ministry. Real ministry with real people who have real problems is a mess.

And I’ve found when people are open and honest with where God has them, the doubts and frustrations they’re experiencing and the places where they’re most confused, spiritual growth happens in huge ways.

Neat and tidy is boring.

2. It’s not a formula.

There is no one-size-fits-all system. There is no perfect structure. No ministry without hiccups.

You can learn principles from other churches, but copying methodology doesn’t work. What worked in one church likely won’t work in another.

Formulas are boring.

3. It’s not a bunch of “professionals.”

Pastors are not “professionals.” We are on the journey with those we are leading, broken people leading broken people. We are redeemed sinners leading people to the King.

I’m thankful I am free to be who God has created me to be, not masking over the parts of my life I’d rather stay hidden. It’s time for pastors to stop hiding behind beautiful masks.

“Professional” is boring.

Ben Reed Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.

More from Ben Reed or visit Ben at http://www.BenReed.net/

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