If you are convinced that the biblical model of church life is correct but cannot find it, what would it require for you to return to the institution? I've been pondering this a bit lately, but have never truly considered it as an option. It is interesting to think about.
Numerous Christians that we know here in Savannah are content in their church lives. They are convinced that they are edified through good fellowship in their institutional settings. It's difficult to know how much of this is a case of "ignorance is bliss," but nevertheless these believers appear happy.
I long for that contentment and happiness. Could it be found within institutional walls? I believe it can, as long as someone is not fully convicted about the model presented in scripture being the model for church life today. If I actually started visiting institutional worship services and small groups I believe I would feel ill, even if I enjoyed it, because I'd be violating my convictions. It's just not worth it.
If Rome is not an option, then what is?
The option currently for my wife and me is to find fellowship where we can and when we can. It also means gathering in our home with just our family for the time being. It means interacting with all sorts of folks online through this blog (not an ideal situation I admit, but better than nothing).
Simple church life is, almost by definition, life on the fringes. If church history tells us three things, it is that the institution does not change, is not inviting to those who want change, and will reject those who hope for change unless they bow the knee to institutional practices. This being the case, there is no reason to try to significantly alter the organization from the inside. If you seek fellowship within the institution, what you will get is institutional fellowship.
I cannot think of a solid reason to return to Rome. I may be lonely at times, but convictions are strong things.
What about you? What would or could make you go back to institutional church? Why?