Shiny hubcaps and the perfect church

The world is proverbially made up of two types of people: One type will know exactly what I’m taking about if I say “That’s not my car. Its wheels are too bumpy”; the other type will look at me like I’m from Mars.

So, for those of you who have not been called upon to read such prose to young children, let me explain. Some time ago, the ever-productive minds at Usborne hit upon a winning formula of books for their younger readership.

Accompanied by toddler-friendly, textured pictures, a typical book might start “That’s not my car. Its wheels are too bumpy”. The next page might show a different car, declaring “That’s not my car. Its steering wheel is too rough”.

For those who can’t handle the suspense any more, let me reassure you that, after a few more “That’s not my car…” pages, there is a happy ending as the writer finally proclaims “That’s my car! Its hubcaps are so shiny!”

Of course, to cater for all tastes, there are countless variations on this theme available. Books of “That’s not my fairy” (its wings are too fluffy), books of “That’s not my teddy” (its feet are too fuzzy), books of “That’s not my train” (its driver is too squishy or something – it all begins to blend into one after a while)

But most of God’s Toddlers have progressed beyond this stage. Last time I bought a car I was not swayed by a search for perfection in the texture of my steering wheel. Neither did I settle on my eventual choice based on being able to see my reflection in the hubcaps.

Instead I opted for one that fit my budget, accommodated all of my children, and didn’t seem like its engine was about to drop out.

Yes, God’s Toddlers are more than capable of cutting through the spurious trivialities of Usborne’s books. So I wondered what kind of book they might market to God’s Toddlers. It might look something like this…







…but the more I thought about the last page, the more difficult I found it to find a suitable description of “That’s my church!” – what would a church with nothing wrong with it look like?

You may have a great answer, but I don’t.  Some might feel less “perfect” than others but, on balance, it’s probably just as well that where two or three people are gathered in Jesus’ name, he promises to be there with them.  Perhaps the rest is little more than window dressing and, if you will, shiny hubcaps.

© 2013 Paul Brownnutt 

Creative Commons License

Being God’s Toddler by Paul Brownnutt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Today’s post is brought to you by Matthew 18:20

2 thoughts on “Shiny hubcaps and the perfect church

  1. “That’s my church!” for me would have everybody in it: every kind of diversity you can think of, including economic and theological. I wanna see rich folks and homeless folks in the pews (though hopefully we can help with the homelessness). I wanna see liberals and conservatives, stiff-upper-lip and “happy clappy,” LGBTQ+ and straight, people reflecting every ethnicity in the local region, all ages, you name it.

    My actual church isn’t quite that ideal, but it’s pretty close, or at least it has been from time to time.

    • I love the sound of that church! Some of the language you use reflects what I used talking about St Paul’s vision for the church in Corinth (The Corinthian Hokey Cokey –

      In fact, I’ve long marvelled at the quiet miracle where churches go on an outing to the countryside and there’s a game of rounders, and teenagers play alongside people their fifties or sixties…where else but church does that happen?

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