The institutional church

This post is from the defunct blog “Dying Church”

Rob Harrison with a helpful post that helps us see the usefulness of the institution, while also recognizing its limitations:

The institution is just a structure to organize our activities to help us function…The institution is a dead thing that protects and gives form to the live thing underneath. But that points us to the reality that the structure isn't going to do the work of the church, because the structure isn't the church; we together are the church, and the structure is there to enable us as we do the work of the church. To avoid facing that, though, we tend to pile those expectations on the institution instead, and then when it fails, we blame it, and denounce it, and set off to find a better way…
I also suspect that we object to the 'institutional church' because it gets in the way of us doing what we want; but in reality, that's part of its purpose. Yes, there is a tendency for institutions to become self-justifying and self-serving, and that's a bad thing; but is that the fault of institutions, or of the people in them? That's a human sin, and attacking institutions won't change it. If anything, doing that makes it worse, because the existence of the institution, for all its faults, reminds us that it has a purpose. We can still do all the touchy-feely 'spirituality' stuff that's all about us without any kind of formal structure, but a congregation that never really goes beyond that is about as self-justifying and self-serving as anything can be; what we need the institution for is to do the things that take us beyond ourselves, the things that actually require work and effort and need organization and structure to support them and keep them going.


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada