What good is the institutional church?
I have often said that I don't really like organized religion, but I sincerely believe that it beats disorganized religion. That sounds flipant, but I mean it. Then I ran across this quote from Eugene Peterson that offers an interesting and perhaps helpful image even while acknowledging the apparent lack of life in an institution:
What other church is there besides institutional? There’s nobody who doesn’t have problems with the church, because there’s sin in the church. But there’s no other place to be a Christian except the church. There’s sin in the local bank. There’s sin in the grocery stores. I really don’t understand this naïve criticism of the institution. I really don’t get it.What do y'all think?
Frederick von Hugel said the institution of the church is like the bark on the tree. There’s no life in the bark. It’s dead wood. But it protects the life of the tree within. And the tree grows and grows. If you take the bark off, it’s prone to disease, dehydration, death. So, yes, the church is dead but it protects something alive. And when you try to have a church without bark, it doesn’t last long. It disappears, gets sick, and it’s prone to all kinds of disease, heresy, and narcissism.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor