The status quo of the institutionalized church is powerful indeed.
And we try to keep it alive by small improvements here and there, fancier equipment, trendier arrangements, and popular speakers. We add layers, patches, and small improvisations. Try to be modern.
All to save something we don’t want to reconsider.
We hardly ever question its basic structure, i. e., the institutional system, including constitutions, elections, offices, fundraising, buildings, and programs. Its division into clergy/professionals and laity.
And its politics.
If we could start all over again and design something that actually would express the Kingdom of Heaven as proclaimed and put into practice by Jesus and the first century communities of disciples, what would we consider?
Here are some suggestions:
- The mission of Jesus as the church’s ultimate purpose, to seek and save the lost. To reconcile them and to teach and train them as disciples, in order to send them out and do the same with others.
- Community, not as an institution, but as a family.
- Extended families and their homes as the basic units of the church in a city.
- Not the building of a denomination, but the continuous multiplication of disciple communities as a viral movement.
- Spirit-filled and Spirit appointed leadership.
- The general priesthood of all disciples.
- The proclamation and demonstration of God’s kingdom in everyday life.
- Seeking and saving the lost and training them as disciples on a personal level.
- Authoritative preaching and teaching followed by signs.
- The working of the gifts of the Spirit.
No matter, whether following a more traditional hierarchical or a more democratic system, institutional churches easily fall into the trap of worldly management and business behavior.
Therefore, let us from time to time consider the original assignment and, whenever there is an opportunity, take the chance to break out of a misguiding system.
And start all over again.