I have been contemplating this Proverb throughout the day today: Proverbs 14:4 "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."
We have seen a good number of people saved in our church over the last couple years. Due to this fact, our church has people that are struggling with various addictions and people that have pasts that cause ministry to get a bit messy sometimes. Our churches are getting back to having regular schedules and events after COVID which often cause their own messes (ahem - children's church). I still remember several years ago a well-meaning individual complaining how messy the church was because I was doing some remodeling. Indeed, most of my day-to-day job as a pastor is working on fixing the messes of ministry whether they be physical, relational, or spiritual. Ministry is messy business.
All of the messes of ministry can easily cause us to be discouraged and want just a nice clean ministry, but that is really the enemy of the church. Now, I'm not saying that people should stay in the filth of the world, but I am saying that sometimes pulling them out of the world means they might have some of that filth that needs to get washed off (Jude 1:23). The church is meant to storm the gates of hell (Mt. 16:18), not be isolated for the spiritually superior. Truly effective ministry has and always will be messy. It was messy for Jesus (Lk. 5:32) and will be messy for anyone that is snatching souls from the fire today as well. I've worked cleaning manure from barns. It's dirty, disgusting, awful work; but each time I feel like it's not worth it to do the same in our church, I'm reminded of something a Christian farmer told me years ago. "You know what's worse than cleaning out a dirty barn? Cleaning out an empty one."
So, if your church has some areas or people that are a bit dirty; be glad. They could always not be there, and that would be the real tragedy for "where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."