Ken, I was writing about something else when your thought penetrated here. I don’t know if I have a series in me just now but I do have way too many thoughts on most subjects. I just lectured in sociology and comparative religions in a class at HPU for the afternoon. I may have imparted a little too much information but I have been invited back, so…
The Church As Institution, Day Two
I did not mention yesterday this one smoldering fact about institutional churches. That is, after a time, they may simply not be able to meet the vital ministry need just around them.
Que es la verdad, hermano?
At the moment one realizes she attends church in a neighborhood where she cannot go into a convenience store, an underlying question intrudes. That is, "Just what is a local congregation?"
There is a difference between unable and unwilling, first. I am willing to stuff a basketball over a seven footer down on the blocks with either hand. I am willing to "posterize" the defender.
I am just not able.
So, don’t put me on the court to play.
Now, what if I am able but unwilling? Do you remember, a few years ago, when Scottie Pippen would not reenter a one point game, with his team behind, because the coach did not draw the play up for him to be the primary shooter? The whole world of pro basketball fans let him have it; all that ability, all that training, all that money and he won’t go in the game?
Every congregation can look at what it can do and get in the game.
What if a local congregation is both unable to the task and unwilling either to retool or to send in an able player? This is a recipe for a losing team.
Then, what is a local congregation when the locale changes so much the congregation cannot recognize it? The institutional church can still be a congregation. It just may not be local anymore.
That is, if the church is the congregation, not the buildings.
So, go city-wide or regional or around the world. Do not do this just through surrogates. Do it yourself. Take your whole congregation, man, woman, child and get out on the streets where you can be effective.
I have to close for today but let me add this thought. What is a church’s real identity? Spare the spiritualizing. A church is really what it can do with enthusiasm.