Wednesday, May 12, 2010
In one form or another, they are champions of "organic church." The term is fluid, but it contains at least three ingredients: Frustration with the-church-as-we-know-it, a focus on people (vs. programs) and mission (vs. institutional maintenance), and a vision to transform the world.Matt Milliner @ Evangel quotes Jason Byassee on young ministers attitudes towards institutions:
That the organic church movement will crash, I have no doubt. Every renewal movement in church history has either derailed immediately or produced temporary renewal at the expense of long-term unintended consequences.
Another sign of hope is the posture of these young ministers toward institutions. Many of my former seminary classmates left the ministry after they tried to fix things at warp speed. They tried to make the whole church pacifist. Or inerrantist. Or as inclusive as they are in their enlightened, tolerant state. All in a year or two. They wrote some articles, served a church or two, went to some conferences, and it just didn’t work. So they became Latin-Mass Catholics, for whom Pope Benedict XVI is a dangerous liberal with too compromising a posture vis-à-vis the modern world. Or they became bicycling, farmers-market shopping crusaders against carbon-based fuels. Now they look at people like us and are puzzled: “Why are you still messing around with church and those same old pitiful problems?” In their impatience they fail to see that God chooses to save corporately, through institutions… God saves by Israel and the church after all – it should be no surprise to anyone who’s even glanced at the Bible or church history that institutions are often corrupt. And as the young ministers often showed me, institutions are the most beautiful thing there is.Whay is it Ecclesiastes 1:13-15 comes to mind? (...all is vanity...)
Any Christian taking seriously their faith understands both the frustration with and attraction to institutions and institutionalization. This I know - the problem is not institutions, but people. Most of the Christian institutions I know have a lot that should make them work well, but corruption is inevitable because we are inevitably corrupt.
So, the first order of business is to do our best to allow the Holy Spirit to remove our own corruption - and that must remain priority one for our lives. Next we want to do what we can to enable that in those immediately around us. The institution needs to be a bit down our list of priorities because only if they are properly ordered can we expect the institutions to even begin to get it right.
What are your priorities?