The Church Outside the Institution and Outside Christendom

With Traditional Christendom struggling and people skeptical of the institutional church, in many parts of the world (Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and now the USA), a growing movement of Christians is seeking to do church outside the building.  Since the church is NOT the building, and the church is NOT the institution, some Christians are finding that it is better to live outside the traditional church.  The generation under 30 is especially feeling this way.

There was an article about two young men,   David Knepprath and Josh Guisinger  (pictured above), that moved into a low-income apartment complex in suburban Portland, Oregon to create community.  This is an area where there is drugs, prostitution, and gangs.  The quality of life is low in an apartment complex like this.  But these 2 young Christians moved in and cook meals for people, host birthday parties for tenants, and do a variety of things to build up community.  At the forefront of their goals is not building a church, or even converting people, but to serve people and make their lives a little bit better in tangible ways.

Excerpt from the article:

So while they were open about their Christianity, they didn't plunge into conversations about their faith. Nor did they move in acting as if they could solve the social ills at Barberry Village.

"We were very conscious of that," said Knepprath, who has since moved out but remains active in the ministry. "Our perspective from the start was that we're not here with all the solutions, or even thinking we know all the problems."

So they walked door to door, handing out chocolate-chip cookies. A letter explained their purpose and faith. They invited residents to the first community meal.

A few people shut the door in their faces. One guy answered with a Taser gun. But others accepted the cookies in the spirit they were offered, and the first seeds of friendship were sown.

It's not unusual for Christians to move into impoverished areas to work with the poor. But movements like new monasticism have gained momentum in recent years.

The benefits of this from the perspective of people dealing in Post-Christendom settings is that it makes it obvious to the secular community that we are not trying to ghettoize ourselves or use people to build up an institution.

Of course, Christianity conquered the Roman Empire by doing this exact thing.  It was the older pagan faiths of the Roman world that was institutionalized.  Christianity was made of small communities, living together and bringing an unusual sense of community and overall stability to the barbarism of collapsing Rome.

The same thing was seen with Christian communities in China amidst the destruction of the communist ethos in China after 1978.  The moral vacuum that erupted was filled by Christian communities that knew how to care for their own and others in a society that was transitioning from forced communalism to radical individualism.

Read the full article here: