the weblog of Alan Knox

Who are you?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2008 in blog links, definition | 2 comments

Most of my regular readers know that I’m very concerned about the nature of the church. I believe that for many years people have viewed the church as an organization. Instead, I believe the church is the people of God themselves. My concern is not organization itself, but that organization often becomes the focus instead of the people.

Jeff at “Losing My Religion: Re-Thinking Church” has written about the distinction between church as an institution and church as an organism in a post called “Mistaken Identity (part 1)“. This is a great explanation of the distinction between institution and organism:

The church in general has suffered from mistaken identity for many centuries now. It’s far worse than a cat thinking it’s a dog. The church is an organism that thinks it is an institution. We believe we are the machine.

Because so many of us believe this, several negative things take shape. First of all, it feeds the sacred cow. The church is sacred; the institution is not. But when we believe we are an institution, we treat the institution as sacred. We try to defend it, protect it, and preserve it, often at the expense of something else important we ought to be doing, like reaching the world with the good news of Jesus. We expend so much energy trying to build our church organizations and make them bigger and better. We build bigger buildings, we start better programs, mistakenly thinking we’ll win more and more people that way, when actually, we’re just creating bigger machines.

Secondly, our mistaken identity causes us to fight to defend something the Lord has never sworn to protect. Jesus is fiercely loyal to His bride, the church (the organism), but nowhere does He promise loyalty to our structures (the institution). The reason some people get so nervous when someone starts revealing the flaws of institutional Christianity is because they kind of take it personally. They feel as though the church itself is being attacked. That is because of mistaken identity. We think we are something we are not.

I’m looking forward to part 2 of Jeff’s post.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-11-2008


    Thank you for this post. I may be repeating myself, but, I feel compelled to repeat the fact of the great blessing it has been to me to find young (well, younger than this old geezer)Christians actually THINKING about what they believe, and why they believe it, and fearlessly articulating their thoughts.

    For far too long the cultish principle has been accepted that the leaders of teaching institutions function as gurus who are the fountain of all knowledge, hold the key to all truth, and all the answers to orthopraxy.

    Equally, for far too long,trusting Christians have naively allowed themselves to be literally brainwashed (through repetitive preaching on authority, tithing, etc.)into accepting the above chronically unscriptural situation.

    I am convinced that congregations are consistently psychologically manipulated and coerced into this attitude by their own lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and information, and the supposed learned status of the teachers. Many leaders are well aware that the inarticulacy of those they teach, even when they make pertinent discoveries, is a good insurance against being questioned.

    If it wasn’t so serious it would be amusing to read, and hear, the attempts of some leaders, to prevent the congregations they are supposed to serve, from acquiring the information (from the Scriptures, books and blogs such as this) which will cause them to be “more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

  2. 6-11-2008

    Aussie John,

    I agree… I would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious. Thanks for the comment.