This is a reposting of a comment I made on inWorship’s blog about the current state of the “church.” I reposted so as not to hijack Brent’s blog:
I’m afraid you’re not sticking to the question. I am certainly on board with Scripture precepts of Biblical leadership, communal living, and accountability. Our point of contention is on the issue of the institutionalizing of the church – not how it functions within the framework.
You’ve said, and I’ve heard many others say that “form doesn’t matter.” I question this notion (and anyone can respond to this – it doesn’t have to be between you and me). I have been to too many churches that claim to be “doing it right” only to find that sooo many of the foundational elements of the institution have remained intact – yet it’s essentially doing church “my way” or the “way I like”. The foundational elements of the institutionalized church – especially the western church that most of us function within – are what I’m questioning. You won’t find verses to back up the institution as we’ve come to know it because they don’t exist – that is, it’s not biblical. A study of church history, world history, European history, colonialism, the rise of the nation state, and so forth is required to put today’s institution into its appropriate context.
Short of that, here are some thought provoking [hopefully] questions (for anyone):
When did the corporate gathering become a spectator sport where the ‘flock’ passively sits and listens to the ’shepherd’?
When did it become the norm to purchase a building for the purpose of fulfilling the corporate gathering? What happened to meeting in people’s houses?
When was celebration of the passover reduced to an assembly line distribution of a crouton and a thimble full of grape juice?
When and how did the corporate gathering for worship come to be called “service”?
When did the local church stop caring for the widows and orphans? (biblically – 33% of a churches income should be exclusively devoted to the poor)?
When did the pastor become the paid professional? and when did the congregation decide to check their personal pursuits of a relationship with God for a relationship with the institution?
Why are their people that affirm themselves as “Methodists” or “Baptists” or “Calvinists” or “Pentecostals” rather than simply identifying their allegiance to and relationship with the Christ?
When did it become acceptable to fly the nation’s flag within the building we use for corporate gatherings?
When in history did the church decide it was prudent to align itself with the existing form of government rather than “fly under the radar?” When in history has that proven to work out well for anyone?
hey – I don’t mean to hijack your blog. I’ll repost this over on my blog. we can continue the discussion here, or take it up there.
Again, these questions are for anyone to respond – not just directed at Brent.