I’ve got a potential humdinger of a blog pending, but I keep getting side-tracked by other things…. Or maybe I’m taking refuge in the distraction of the other things. Anyway, today’s side track is from Ekblad’s “Reading the Bible with the Damned” (2005) which is an interesting little publication for anyone working with folk outside of mainstream culture.
The bit that caught my attention was his end-times discourse where he talks about the destruction of principalities, powers and passions. Along with the usual list of death, disease, hate, social, structural and political powers, and ideologies all doomed to destruction, Ekblad also includes anything that looks like an institution including all the Christian ones; all denominations, all mission organisations, all NGO’s, all para-church organisations.
On my first reading I thought “that’s a bit harsh”. On my second reading I quite enjoyed the idea of certain Christian organisations being consigned to a vast eschatological shredding machine, in a vindictive but fictitious sort of way, like playing a computer game. It wasn’t till a day later on my bike that I suddenly realised what he means, and why he is right.
Institutions are something like folders on a computer; they don’t actually carry any weight beyond that of their content; an empty folder is zero kilobytes; an institution without people is a name on paper. In the grand scheme of things institutions don’t exist other than as entities defined by human beings for ease of organisation. In the final instance what will be left will be the people. When the lamb opens his book of life, the names therein will be people, not institutions. When all the buzzwords, building projects, flow diagrams, meetings, fundraising, smart targets, strategies, leadership elections and form-filling finally crumble, the only thing left of an institution will be any tangible contribution that its members might have made towards building the Kingdom of God.
I’m not about to write a heavy-handed “application” section, not least because I want to go to bed, so let’s just suggest that for some institutions whose vision may have become reduced to “we grow to exist and we exist to grow”, it might be time for a rethink around where those resources might ultimately be leading to.