Community or Institution?

Abandoned BLC 2000


“Maybe today some people see opposition between, on the one hand, a seemingly barren, old, institutional church, cut off from the world, looking after buildings, and worried about membership and attendance, and on the other hand, new communities, filled with life, enthusiasm, risk, openness and welcome, concerned about the big issues of the world — injustice, torture, peace, disarmament, ecology, a better distribution of wealth, the liberation of women, drug addiction, AIDS, people with handicaps…. But we know that every community, with time, risks closing in on itself and becoming an empty institution governed by laws. The new communities of today can become the closed-up, barren institutions of tomorrow.”

– Jean Vanier, Community and Growth (via inward/outward)

It seems more popular today to “bash” institutions – and the “institutional” church is a favorite punching bag.  In all honesty I suppose it’s really a replacement exercise where the self is set up as the “institution” and then the rest ranging from family to government, educational to religious structures, temples of consumerism and our media farms revolve around “me”.

I don’t support abuse in any form of institution – especially the church.  I believe we can focus our energies and resources which support God’s agenda for the world’s good.  I recognize some have been hurt and disappointed. My prayer is for those of us in leadership to be accountable and watchful of the steps that we take. But even before we are in “leadership” positions we are members – family members of the organic community which in many cases function within “organized” structures.  That’s simply the fact that many of us chose to continue in.  More and more these days, the critic I have from within the “institutional” structures while may have a tinge of so called self-coined righteous anger (then again it’s a mixed bag)  … it really has been more of sadness lately.  The road to cynicism and bitterness is wide and many are tempted to go there … the path way to humility and maturity is painful and narrow … I hope more will respond to the invitation to go there … the fact is few enter that “narrow” way.

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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