June 18, 2009

In Defense of the "Institutional Church" Before we begin, it's important that we get our terms right. When some people say "institutional church", what they really mean is the "corporation church"-- the church-as-a-business that operates for profit and self-preservation. I would offer no defense for such a church. But I would suggest a caution to you: while there may be pastors who have become more like shopkeepers than shepherds, I want you to understand the seriousness of the allegation you are making when you denounce a church as being nothing more than a corporation. You are making a claim that cuts to the heart and motives of pastors and people you may not know, suggesting that they are mercenaries who care nothing for God and His work. There may be cases where that is true, but you cannot know for sure. Which leads me to another point of clarification: it is impossible to deal honestly in generalities. I could not possibly defend every church, nor could you condemn every church that fits a particular bill (too large, too small, too stagnant, etc.). That being said, let's begin. Here are four reasons to defend the so-called "institutional church": 1. Place Matters There is this saying that the church is not a building. Of course, we understand the point-- that WE, the redeemed, the "called out ones", are the Church. But this over-emphasized distinction can seem a little foolish. It's like lecturing your kids about how your family is not a home. Certainly a family can survive without a home and a family is still a family even when children go away to college or are displaced by trouble and hardship. But a home is part of the fabric of a family. It is where the family gathers after work and school; it is where they cook and...
What Creative People Never Tell You About Creativity There is a myth about creativity that will surface in almost every conversation about the subject. It may not be expressed in quite the same way; it isn't even always said. But at the bottom of almost every discussion on creativity is the belief that creativity is about authenticity, it is about being unique, being different, being an individual. When a person does "what no one has ever done before", she is being creative. When a person copies or incorporates ideas or methods that have been used before, he is being dull and uncreative. But here are three things that every artist knows but is reluctant to admit...three reasons why the confusion of creativity with authenticity is misleading: 1. Only God Creates Out Of Nothing Ex nihilo is the Latin phrase the Church used to explain that when God made the world, He didn't have any starting materials. He made it all from scratch. Out of nothing. Every creative person thereafter has been building with His lumber. We are, as it were, painting with a fixed palette. All our so-called inventors are not making new things; they are taking existing things and combining them in such a way as to bring new possibilities to our world. A musician is working with a finite amount of notes. In Western composition, 12 to be exact. In Eastern melodies, intervals "within the cracks of the piano keys" are acceptable, but even then, the possibilities run out. Every dye ever made reflects a color God first sprayed in our universe. Even in our most creative work, when we join with God to co-create life, we are not creating something out of nothing. The building blocks of art are ancient. 2. Imitation is an important part of creativity. OK, so not much room for disagreement...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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