Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Institutional Church

"The Southern Baptist Convention needs a bone marrow transplant from the book of Acts." - Dr. Alvin Reid.
This week is our Spring break, so what does the weather decide to do? Snow! Which is a major bummer for us Africans who hate the cold. It's not to big a deal though because I am sitting in an Evangelism Intensive everyday from 8am to 3pm. It's a lot of work but I need to get some hours behind me. Anyway. Here are some free thoughts from a few of my notes:
To much of the way we do "church" in the South is institutional. Some examples of the institutional church (IC):
- The church has become something we maintain not a movement to advance.
- Movements change the world. Institutions are just tools (and tools can often wear out their usefulness).
- The IC is not looking for creative ways to win kids in schools or co-workers or neighbors.
- The IC complains about no prayer in schools but a LifeWay study found that 88% of Christians don't even pray with their families in their own home.
- The IC does not live with any sense of a burden for the lost around them.
- The USA is the fourth largest lost nation in the world. Large, beautiful, expensive buildings stand empty across the landscape of post-christian America. May these empty relics serve as a reminder that when the church turns inward it dies.

Institutional Church
• I go to church.
• Uses the building as a hotel for saints.*
• Is full of programs.
• Is the same every week and promises not to last longer than an hour.

* The church should not function as an institution but there are good institutions, ie. the home, the State, missional seminaries, etc.
* Family Life Center Building which are only being used to serve the saints rather than as an outreach tool to a lost community.

Church as a Movement
• We have NEVER been to church! We are the church.*
• Sees the building as a hospital for sinners.
• Is an organic movement, indigenous to its city/context.
• Cares less about routine and time constraints. Are often lead by pastors who preach biblical sermons for an hour each week.

* A funny illustration of this comes from a famous church in Atlanta. The pastor was standing in the foyer talking to a deacon before an evening service when a youth walked into the sanctuary in shorts. The deacon stopped the youth and said "You can't wear shorts in church, you need to put some pants on." The kid looked at the deacon and said, "I'm not wearing shorts in church, I'm wearing shorts on the church" and then he walked on in. The pastor looked at the deacon and said, "That kid has better theology than you."

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