Hostile to church, friendly to Jesus.

June 18, 2007 at 3:44 pm 3 comments

“Hostile to church, friendly to Jesus Christ.”  These words describe large numbers of people, especially young people, today.  They are opposed to anything that savors of institutionalism.  They detest the establishment and its entrenched privileges.  And they reject the church–not without some justification–because they regard it as impossibly corrupted by such ideals.

If you were to guess, who do you think wrote this and when?  Pope Benedict, Bono, Martin Luther, Dan Kimball, George Barna, Augustine, one of your kids or anyone under 30 in any institutional church?

The answer is John Stott and it was written in 1958! (Basic Christianity)  What impressed me about the quote was how right on he was 10 years before the Jesus People movement which began to change the face of “church” for the next 30 years and how right on he is now. 

Another thing about this quote that got my attention is how it points out these kinds of church stuggles seem to recycle through every few decades.  How pervasive is anti-institutionalism today?  Having done the cycle in the 70’s my personal opinion is it is much more pervasive today then it was 40 years ago because there are many more alternatives today then there were back then.  Quieter perhaps but more pervasive.

Pretty much the only option in my first go at institutional objections was to stay and slug it out.  Young people who dislike the music in the church today should have seen what it was and what it took to get it where it is.  The progress from where we were, even in the ’80’s, to where we are, is way beyond any perceptible progress being made today.  I hear a lot of comments from people the age of my children who blame my generation for screwing up the church, but they have no idea how screwed up it was when we got it.

Today when people are frustrated with the same issues Dr. Stott spoke of 50 years ago they don’t generally stay with the institution, they leave and form another one, or get their spiritual food from one of the many blogs and web sites available to them. 

The number of churches planted in the last 10 years reviles any other decade in history.  The reason for starting most of them is inability to effect any change in the churches the planters were attending.  This trend will not stop any time soon.  Most church planting today has little to do with church growth and everything to do with frustrations with institutional church. 

I guess what goes around, goes around again and again. 

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Institutional church, Thoughts.

Listening. “Giving ourselves to the next generation.”

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sumijoti  |  June 19, 2007 at 8:35 am

    I think what happens is that whenever there is a move of God people tend to want to make an institution around it. Look at how Peter immediately suggested building a tabernacle for Moses, Jesus and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration. God’s spoke from heaven and corrected Peter, not telling him to build a tabernacle at all, but to listen to Jesus.

    I think it is human to ‘camp out’ at the place where God last moved instead of moving on with Jesus, but it is expedient for the church to find out where Jesus is and to follow Him. I personally don’t think that he is to be found in anything institutionalised.

  • 2. moodr  |  June 18, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    i believe that this is something that God presented us with and i am sure we will learn from it.

  • 3. PB and J  |  June 18, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    francis schaeffer wrote about the creation of individualized christianity. he believes that it came all the way back from the pietism movement in germany.

    i think that a lot of the reason people dislike institutions is because of our very individualistic society. but there certainly is also something to be said for the failure of our churches to build true community.

    pb

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