Church as an Invitation not an Institution

We live in an era popularized by the phrase “spiritual but not religious.”  I imagine for many the connotation is a movement away from institutional forms of religion to more personalized, individualized, customized views of religion devoid of the demands of formalized faith.

And I would kindly offer … maybe church is, at its best, more than just an institution.  Maybe it is as well an invitation.

How to differentiate between institution and invitation?  Maybe this … institutions can often tend to embrace begrudged compliance.  Invitations can often tend to embrace a freely offered surrender.

I worry … for me … that if I went full bore to “spiritual but not religious” I would miss the invitation, I would forgo the surrender, so prone are we to get trapped in self-referenced “what feels good”, “what feels right.” What feels good, what feels right?  Meat and beer and football and sex.  Left to our own devises, the centers of the universe.

My hope is to heed the invitation and surrender.  To surrender to something more freeing, far greater than the cramped horizons of my personal compulsions.  Church is an invitation to do just that.

And the best churches?  They are institutions centered on that very invitation.   A radical welcome home. A surrender to something far greater than me.




2 Responses to “Church as an Invitation not an Institution”

  1. Nathan says:

    Thanks, Chuck! …makes me think of various invitations in the Bible. “Come, let us reason together…”
    “Take My yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
    “And the spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let whoever hears say, ‘Come!’ And let whoever thirsts come. Whoever desires, let them take the water of life freely.”
    I love the idea of heeding the invitation and surrendering to, even embracing, something more freeing.

  2. Chuck, I think of Church as a spiritual community of people on a similar path, sharing their ideas, their lives, loving caring sharing helping others (a good template for this type of church is NewChurchLIVE). It is a society of people working within a common purpose — a Heaven from the Human Race: “The quality of an individual’s life depends greatly upon the quality of societies that the individual is connected with. At the same time, it is also true that the quality and vitality of a society depends greatly upon the enthusiasm and commitment of its individual members. Consequently, it is quite true that the qualities of both a society and of the individuals who are connected with it are inter-dependent.” [San Francisco New Church]

    This reminds me of the societies of heaven where people congregate into societies that share similar ruling loves and it is their “home”. You can also experience this to a certain degree here on earth of you gravitate to a society/church that you do feel as if your within your “spiritual home.”

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