We must never use spiritual formation efforts to shore up a dying institutional structure. This problem can be quickly identified whenever the spiritual disciplines are being used to increase attendance at worship services or to enhance the offerings or to get people to serve on committees or to boost evangelistic efforts. Christopher Dawson has written, “The spirit of the Gospel . . . . is essentially hostile to the spirit of calculation, the spirit of worldly prudence and above all to the spirit of religious self-seeking and self-satisfaction.”(Image: “praise jesus” by dlemieux at flickr; Some rights reserved: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0)
Our focus can never be institutional survival. Rather, it is precious people. Some structures help us in this focus upon people and when this is the case, we can thank God for the structure. Other structures hinder, and when this is the case, too bad for the structure. Frankly, friends, structures come and go. The great glory of human beings is that they are created in the image of God and are unceasing beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. Hence, they are the heart and center of our spiritual formation efforts. Always.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17