I’m reading James K.A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, which has a point that resonates very strongly with what I’m struggling about regarding church. (Not that I’m struggling against “them,” but “me.”)
Within the matrix of a modern Christianity, the base “ingredient” is the individual; the church, then, is simply a collection of indiviudals. Conceiving of Christian faith as a private affair between individual and God—a matter of my asking Jesus to “come into my heart”—modern evangelicalism finds it hard to articulate just how or why the church has any role to play other than providing a place to fellowship with other individuals who have a private relationship with God. With this model in place, what matters is Christianity as a system of truth or ideas, not the church as a living community embodying its head. Modern Christianity tends to think of the church either as a place where individuals come to find answers to their questions or as one more stop where individuals can try to satisfy their consumerist desires. As such, Chrisitnaity become intellectualized rather than incarnate, commodified rather than the site of genuine community.
…The church does not exist for me; my salvation is not primarily a matter of intellectual mastery or emotional satisfaction. The church is the site where God renews and transforms us—a place where the practices of being the body of Christ form us into the image of the Son. What I, a sinner saved by grace, need is not so much answers as reformation of my will and heart. (p. 29-30)
My own realization here is that I still think in such a way that the church is largely peripheral to my real walk of faith. I do not want this to remain the case.