At Ministry Academy this weekend I said something that warranted murmurs and looks. When asked about whether our individual churches were bridging the gap between Ecclesio-centric (Church focused) or Communio-centric (community focused) I brought up the fact that I believe the Institutions of the Church, The United Methodist Church included, are expendable and are transient. I said that, though important, things like programs and making sure apportionments are paid in the institution they are ultimately secondary or even tertiary to building God’s Kingdom on Earth. This is our goal, this is why we are being transformed through the sanctifying, transformative and saving grace of God.
My mention specifically of how the UMC may, one day, end was not met with applause as you could guess. I have since evaluated carefully my eschewing of the institutional side of the Church for a purely missional ideology. My wife pointed out that the institution is a necessary vehicle for the betterment of the kingdom and I could scantly deny that! The United Methodist Church has been a fantastic place of growth and knowledge for myself and others, and to deny such a great facilitating work for Christ to use in my life seems foolish. However, I still am suspicious of churches that emphasize the survival of their particular denomination or institution to the detriment of building and transforming lives of those that make of the body of Christ.
What do you think? Is the missional and transformative mission of the universal Church so important as to sometimes neglect the needs of the institutions, or must we accept that in order to lay foundations for the Kingdom we must protect our institutional branches of the Church in order to allow transformation to happen?