It's the single worst facet of having an institutional mindset. Your goal is that nothing should change. Nothing should move from its place. Nothing should stop. And, also, nothing should die.
But death, as I've opined here at least once before, might be something a church needs to embrace. Death, in more ways than one, can be part of the cycle of life. Nature composts itself into fertile new ground. Why don't we? Most human enterprises fail at some point. Why don't we expect churches to?
Culturally, here in the west, the increasingly common move to embrace one's own failures is a recent phenomenon. Historically, administrative heads made themselves nothing but vulnerable if they admitted a fault, let alone huge mistakes. It used to be that the best way to succeed was to take over someone else's failure. Today, at the upper end of the world's economic scale, there's more success to be had elsewhere. Therefore, failure is safer. Thus, our new philosophical trend was protected, and now it's starting to spread.
But God was way ahead of us, natch. So was Paul, even while trying to stave off Corinth's threatening demise:
We have this treasure in earthen vessels... struck down but not destroyed.. carrying around the dying of Jesus.. constantly delivered over to death.. death works in us.. but we do not lose heart. Though our [plural] outer man [singular, corporate?] is decaying, yet the inward is renewed day by day... (emphasis mine)If only Corinth could have fixated on the inward, and thus also embraced a bit more that constant deliverance to death. Clearly, Paul was hopeful, and aggressively encouraging. But Paul was also completely sober about the late hour of the Corinthians' situation, as well.
If the earthly tent [singular] which is our house [plural, corporate?] is torn down, we have a building from God.. in the heavens.Yes. If the church here does die, we will still in some sense cling to the fact that God is still working to make us a part of his permanent House. Yes. If God's tabernacle in one place is torn down - if its many-pieced structure, built together from that which every
Churches die. We all know that they do. We just don't like to think about it.
This is one reason, I believe, why the historical interpretation I shared in part one of this series hasn't been offered before, as far as I've yet been able to detect. The institutional mindset prefers to avoid this consideration. Frankly, even the so-called radical ones who think they're starting churches based on the New Testament, they don't want to consider this either. There's a lot more institutionalizing going on in the human heart of a founder of something, than there is in the walls of a long dead organization.
If your church doesn't think it can die, I'd question whether it's truly alive. But the church which embraces its death may yet attain resurrection from the dead!
In fact, that may also be part of what Corinth experienced.
There's a big difference between temporarily dead and permanently dead.
To be continued...