“Currently, the church in America, evangelical as well as liberal, is in trouble.” – Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century, 1992
It has now been thirty years since the introduction quote to this book was written. Thirty years of more of the same. Thirty years of the same pattern—Eruption, fracture, and institutionalization.
This pattern struck me through the entire historical survey of The Coming Reformation. It is a pattern that has repeated throughout history, even since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden. The eruption of the early church eventually led to fracture amongst its members. This fracture led to the creation of an institution in order to maintain control and “unity.” We see the same thing play out after Martin Luther’s reformation, as well as the Asuza Street Revival. Humankind cannot help but seek its own way. When the control of the Church is usurped from the Holy Spirit, the natural result is control through systems and methods. It is no surprise to me, then, to see that even now we are in the midst of this cycle.
In my lifetime (since Aubrey Malphurs wrote his church planting book), the answer to the fracture of the institutional church has been an attempt at unity. Parachurch organizations, service projects, short term missions, ministerial alliances… all grasping at straws to preserve what has been built. The problem with this is that it seeks to preserve the institution, not the original design for the Church.
Today, the movement away from the institutional church has become one of either avoidance of specific doctrines that people find harmful, or the rejection of the Church, scripture, and Christ as a whole. I believe that there is another way. Moving away from the institutional church and reclaiming God’s original design for His Bride is the way we will see true reformation and end the eruption – fracture – institutionalize pattern that has been repeated all over history.
To read Disciple Driven Church: The Coming Reformation for yourself, you can find it at: http://discipledrivenchurch.org/Books.html