May 4, 2012

Frightening Thought...What if Organized Institutional Churches Were Still the Best Way for People to Be the Body of Christ?

Organized religion or institutional church have been getting a bad rap lately.

Most blogs, posts on FB and Twitter, most emergent authors, most missional writers rail against both organized religion and institutional church.

I get why most people have issues with the church as an organized religious institution. There are legitimate issues and concerns that are unhealthy and destructive elements of organized religious institutions.

That's the neck of theological woods I typically hang out in.

But I had a very frightening thought as I was sipping on my coffee out at Starbucks just now.

What if the best way for people to experience God is still in......gasp.....organized institutional churches?

The only way a Christian can fully experience the body of Christ is in community.

And as soon as people gather in communities there needs to be some organization and ways of being to which people must adhere to.

And when that happens, organizations and institutions are birthed.

The only way to remain uninstitutionalized and unorganized is to remain in isolation.

But it is precisely in community where we learn to be loving, kind, patient, forgiving, etc.

I don't know.....Maybe it's just a weird batch of coffee beans at Starbucks today.


Will Boyd said...

What would you think if I said that the experience of God is one that is so transcendent of human organization that it is actually antithetical to institutionalization? What if our experience of God within institutional religion is, in fact, in spite of the institution?

We build institutions to protect things. However, my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus is more about giving unto death that which is most important. I agree 100% that the experience of God is highly dependent upon (but not exclusive to) community. However, I firmly believe that God's love and grace and how God touches and shapes our lives has little to nothing to do with the way we organize the institutional church.

Being married to a pastor and having made my living for quite some time in the church world, I understand most of the arguments. However, I've experienced God in community more and more powerfully outside of the institutional church than I ever have on the inside.

Thanks for this post.

James Kim said...


I agree that our current manifestations of the institutional is inwardly bent and more interested in institutional survival than the mission of Jesus Christ. The part I am wrestling with is how a community can be formed/forged to do God's ministry apart from some organization and some form of institutions.

Way more questions than answers.

Will keep pressing to live out Christ's mission.


James <><