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It’s not uncommon for those keen to see social change or change within the church—people passionate about causes that matter to them—to dismiss institutions as enemies of their vision for the church or society.
It’s often assumed that if you care deeply about social change, you are anti-institutions. If you really care about the church, for example, that means you care about “community” and people, not institutions. If you want to make a substantive difference in your town or city or country, the last thing you need is an institution to get in the way because, it’s assumed, institutions are about maintaining the status quo.
Example - Occupy - Movement - Agenda - Money
A classic example is the Occupy Movement that started with an agenda to “get money out of politics.” It eventually spread to 82 countries and ended up being a protest movement that addressed everything from social ills to demands for democracy in Hong Kong. But as cofounder Micah White acknowledges, it didn’t achieve its objectives despite lasting long and receiving front-page coverage. Consider Occupy Central, in Hong Kong. It lasted 10 months, and yet there is nothing to show for all that time and effort. Why? As Susan Cole puts it in that same interview, to accomplish anything you need some level of organization. Or, more simply, you need to create an institution.
It’s unavoidable: If we rightly care about the church or society and want to make a difference, we must think in terms of institutions. If we long to see certain core values informing real-life circumstances, we need to know both how institutions work and also how we can work most effectively within them. We can either fight institutions and view them as an inherent problem, out of some sentimental notion of what makes for human flourishing, or we can learn how to live with and...
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