Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Myth of the Institutionless Church

For a very healthy corrective to the slagging off of institutions see THIS from Jason at Deep Church.


Jody Gabriel said...

The big comparison is with the health service which serves the huge idea of delivering free health care to all at their point of need. The criticism is that the absence of an institution means:

'we restrict it to only a few who are in proximity to those who can provide it with no institutional support.'

Hang on a minute. Who do we think we are? Don't we do all our best work with those in proximity. Shouldn't we keep our focus there and avoid trying to serve a big idea.

I was at a Dave Andrews conference recently and he talked about having to let go of the notion of being a mighty man of God, that God was calling him to be faithful in the small things. He talked about the demon of meglomania.

So who do we think we are?

Glen Marshall said...

A people called to make disciples of all nations and to witness to Christ to the ends of the earth and until he comes. Can't do that without some institutional infrastructure.

Institutions at their best enable values to survive beyond charismatic personalities and into future generations. Institutions should help us to be faithful in the small things, help nurses to nurse and help as many as possible to have access to good nurses.

It is not we as individuals who are anything great, God for bid, but is the gospel great? You bet, in fact it is cosmic and eternal as well as and at the same time as being intimate, local, personal, parochial.

The challenge is to make sure we resist the institution becoming an end itself ensuring that it genuinely serves the call of the gospel rather than getting in the way.

Jody Gabriel said...

I can see that something like Christian Aid is an institution. Is Wakefield Baptist Church an institution? It is the sum of its personalities, and feels especially at the moment that particular people are holding it together.

Glen Marshall said...

Jody, check out the definition on Wikipedia and see what you think. (Don't tell my students I said this!). It's an accurate summary. If you are really, really interested I can recommend the Berger and Luckmann book in their bibliography.