Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 4

The deformation of the ministry is a religious symptom of the sickness of industrial society.
Many successful pastorates exist under these circumstances, many faithful and devoted lives emerge from them; but the saints of the organization church are apt to appear despite the program rather than because of it.

Notwithstanding the piety of individual pastors and laymen, Protestantism as a whole was vulnerable to the centrifugal forces of metropolitan life. The emphasis on voluntary congregations and individual piety made Protestantism a prey to the distorting forces.

Each new stage of metropolitan disorder will manifest itself within religious institutions unless the churches assume a formative role in their ministry to the metropolis.

This analysis of Protestantism could be summarized as a loss of contact between the churches and the community as a whole.

The choice confronting the churches today is whether to continue ministering to fragments of society or to reform their ministry in order to participate in the whole of life of the metropolis.

It is a difficult choice, since the losses will be great in either direction; ministry to parts means continued frustration and the neglect of the genuinely religious concerns; participation in the whole means organizing a new form of the Protestant ministry.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 196-197

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