On Wednesday, this question was posed on Twitter:
The following exchange was:
@TheAlethiophile Agreed – but in reality, whether we like it or not, it has become an institution.
— Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching) February 26, 2014
This got me thinking.
I’m happy for an institution to exist which supports the church, but I would hesitate to regard the two as equal. In the early church, when the apostles started to find their work hindered they delegated responsibility. The seed was sown for an organisation to help the body.
I view it as one might scaffolding. It can be a bit ugly, certainly not as beautiful as the building beneath. This can put people off; though they may glimpse something of what is within, it’s often masked by steel, or plastic that flaps in the wind. It’s firmly attached to the building, but it is not the building. It’s sometimes staffed (manned?) by those who occasionally shout at one another, or give unhelpful comments to those passing by.
With a large church, it’s an unfortunate necessity, borne not out of theological imperative, but of practical need.
Some churches may try to be inside-out, giving a beautiful presentation to the outside world, only for some to be bitterly disappointed when they enter, finding building works going on indoors.
All analogies, have their failings, as does this. But might this ring a little true in your experience? I’m just musing here.