Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ya Might be a Redneck if ...

The Jeff Foxworthy schtick is probably getting pretty old for most of us already. You know ... "Ya might be a redneck if the grass growing in your front yard is so out of control that it hides the fact that you have two abandoned cars parked there."

Well I was reading a portion of a book by Paul Vieira (a Canadian author) called "Jesus Has Left the Building." In it he talks about his call to move outside the walls of the church to interact with the community and be the Church where two or three are gathered. In the book introduction he spells out some of the characteristics of the "institutional church."

So, how would I define “the building”? What is it exactly that Jesus is supposedly walking away from? Well, you might be dealing with an institutional understanding if you maintain or accept the following ideas about “church:”

So (in my words): "Ya might be part of an institutional church if ..."

• it’s somewhere you go
• it happens on a special day of the week
• you have a professional to tell you what to do
• all it requires of you is attendance and fees paid
• there exists a hierarchical command structure
• meetings come before people
• it has committees
• it has programs
• it has a corporate vision
• it has a corporate name
• it segregates itself from other believers
• it is more concerned with structure than content
• quality is sacrificed for quantity

He continues some of his ideas with these comments ...

In my experience, I loved being with God’s people. But there was something else interfering with our relationships and life together. This subtle, but very powerful system of values and practices does not seem to have its root in Jesus. I often use the following words synonymously (sometimes humorously), to describe this hindrance: institutional church, organized church, the religious system, the system, the corporate machine, the monster, the building, the matrix. Periodically, I will make statements that question the legitimacy of “church.” When this happens, please know that I am not referring to the true church, made up of all believers in Christ, but to the organization typically called “church.”

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