Messy Church

Ross Parsley, author of Messy Church: A Multigenerational Mission for God's Family, is currently lead Pastor of ONEChapel, a church he planted in Austin, Texas. Before that, however, he was a worship pastor and then interim pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the large church that survived the traumatic fall of senior pastor Ted Haggard and a tragic shooting thirteen months later that claimed two worshipers' lives and wounded two others.

Parsley's vision for the church is that of a messy extended family--a broken family and blended family (two of his chapter titles), but one that worships intergenerationally, loves, forgives, and perseveres. He clearly knows whereof he speaks, not only from the aftermath of cataclysmic change and terrible tragedy, but also from his experience in starting a new church that reflects his vision of a church as a messy family.

The most riveting passages in the book for me were his descriptions--always gracious, I'm glad to say--of his ministry at New Life in those turbulent months encompassing Pastor Ted's fall, the shooting, and the aftermath of both events. It was a true blessing to read of how the church and its leaders navigated through that treacherous period, even in the glare of media attention. But the most practical parts of the book, for those convinced of his premise, are the appendices, in which he offers "A Multigenerational Church Service Model" (comprising creeds, confession, communion, canon, and connection) and "Transitioning to a Family Worship Table Format." Those two appendices are probably worth the price of the book.

Parsley's book won't convince everyone, but it is a valuable addition to the conversation about what church out to be in our culture and age, and I recommend it.

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