Like most everyone who reads this blog, I recognize the imperfections of the Church. I also strongly believe that we should work in harmony to grow stronger disciples who look more like Christ and less like egocentric leaders.

That being said, my sorrow and frustration, I must admit, continue to grow as I read comments from people who use the term “institutional” as a pejorative against a form of church they have chosen to leave.  While the term may help distinguish between different approaches to living as the Body of Christ, the term”institutional” should not become a slander that justifies division in the Family.  This passage from the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome has something to say about this kind of judgementalism.

Romans 14:10-13 (ESV)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess2 to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

I trust that the desire to refine the church is, for most people, genuine, but we must also be careful to love one another without creating false dichotomies and pharisaical laws.

2 Cor 5:10-11 (ESV}
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.

Let us engage, persuade, and encourage one another to a stronger faith and a deeper Church experience, but remember God is ultimately the Father of all His kids!

In the end, there is noinstitutional” church!  There is noorganic” church!  There is only ONE church—now let’s start speaking to one another in both truth & love!

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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