Church as Institution

While I have gratitude and respect for certain para-church ministries and benefit from being part of different trans-denominational movements, the older I get the more convinced I become that the church is where it’s at. I recently saw this quote from Ross Douthat’s Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (2012) in the Fall 2013 issue of Comment dedicated to the topic of institutions:

This turn boded ill for Evangelicalism’s long-term future, because although the ‘para’ groups were immensely successful at religious mobilization, they weren’t as effective at sustaining commitment across a life span or across generations. They were institutions for an anti-institutional faith, you might say, which meant that they were organized around personalities and causes and rarely created the sense of comprehensive, intergenerational community… You couldn’t spend your whole life in Campus Crusade for Christ, or raise your daughter as a Promise Keeper, or count on groups like the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition to sustain your belief system beyond the next election cycle. For that kind of staying power you needed a confessional tradition, a church, an institution capable of outlasting its charismatic founders.

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