Our ragged church

A homeless mission in the city

I once nailed the doors of my church shut. I didn’t exactly hammer the nails. But I brought the plank and hammer and nails from the basement and held the listing wooden doors while a police officer hammered in the nails.

Afterward, no one could enter, including the burglar who had splintered the door frame. When we found cleaning supplies scattered across the floor, the officer and I were fairly sure he had been searching for something to huff.

Still, nailing the doors shut seemed so antigospel, so unlike the pastor I thought I’d be when I graduated from seminary five months earlier. I stood uneasily in the brick breezeway just off the stalwart old sanctuary, and smelled the urine left behind by parishioners. I wondered wearily, What kind of church nails its doors shut, even temporarily?

That would be us: the Triune Mercy Center. And I was its exceedingly ill-equipped pastor.


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