A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the church that you can find here. This post is sort of a continuation of that one, sort of not . . . and quite possibly may not have too much different from that post to say. ;)
I had lunch with a friend today and we ended up getting into a conversation about this church - in general not any one church in particular (Side note: This is not a conversation to get into when you have a time limit if you are both passionate about it. Needless to say we lost track of the time and I took a little longer lunch than I usually do and ended up working late because of it. Oops! Okay, back to the blog now . . .) As we were talking, I realized that I am a lot more passionate about the church than I thought.
I will not deny that there are serious problems with the institution of the church, but I do not agree with those who see walking away from the church as a solution to those problems. I think that just adds to the problems instead. I honestly wonder if some of our problems come from how much we have institutionalized something that was never meant to be an institution.
Ultimately, the church should happen any time believers gather together in community. I think, especially int he West, our abundance of resources to own land and a building and pay staff, has cause us to see the church as a place to go for singing and a sermon on the weekend, and maybe during the week for a Bible study or service targeted to a specific group of people. We have lost sight of the fact that the "church" can and should be happening anywhere believers gather together in community.
But, all that being said, I still feel that there is a definite need for the institution that we call the church. There is a need for their to be a place where people of different generations gather together to learn and grow and serve. There is value in having someone preach the Word and hearing that regularly - to help us grow and challenge us in our lives. There is value in corporate worship - to bring the people of God together to bring glory and praise to His name. There is value int here being a place where the limited resources of individuals are brought together and used in a greater way than would have been possible individually.
Are there things the church, as an institution, does poorly? Yes. Are there things that may need changing moving forward? Absolutely. But, if we want that change, then we must work to make those changes. Walking away does nothing to bring change.
Yes, it may be frustrating sometimes and you may feel like no one is listening. But, I believe our task in those times is to go to God in prayer and seek His face, and keeping making our stand and talking about it. If we just shut up and walk away, we will never make a difference. And if we do not pray and seek God in it, we run a huge risk of making things worse, rather than better, with our calling and working for change in the church.