The institutional Church seeks to fulfill the will of God with an institutional response.

The institutional Church seeks to fulfill the will of God with an institutional response.[1] This is true whether one labels the resulting institution as a postmodern “emergent church” or the more liberal/traditional “missional church.” Guder and colleagues phrase the problem well but offer the missional church as an institutional response to the waning of the influence of Christendom.[2] They view the culture of religiosity in North America as becoming dangerously “more pluralistic, more individualistic and more private.”[3] Diversity at the level of individuals rather than a race or ethnic group is viewed as a challenge “for the Christian who takes the Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously.”[4] Institutional desires for centralized conformity can thrive beneath a call for obedience to the “reign of God” as defined by those in power.


[1]I acknowledge the difficult conflict of denominational executives, bishops and district superintendents who have a stewardship responsibility for the health of an institution which requires them to view and address problems institutionally rather than organically.

[2]Darrell L. Guder, ed., Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 1-45. Eight patterns define the missional church. Cf. Lois Y. Barrett et al., Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns In Missional Faithfulness (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), xii-xiv. The missional church perspective is widespread within the Illinois Great Rivers Conference leadership.

[3]Guder, Missional Church, 1. Individualism is frequently a healthy reaction of differentiation from institutional enmeshment and manipulation; all people desire freedom from oppression. The missional church proclaims the inbreaking kingdom of God and invites people into a community which will form and shape them into conformity with “biblical” norms; this type of coercion is not new and is antithetical to healthy community. Cf. M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York: Touchstone, 1987), 113, 186.

[4]Guder, Missional Church, 1.

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