When I started writing like this, I was given two hints for ways to get people to read what you write – write about something topical, and write about something you care about. Hence, another diatribe concerning my time at Prairie Bible Institute…
…actually, let me rephrase that. This is going to start out being about Prairie, but I hope to make it something more encompassing once I’m done…
Some of you who read this will already know the “public” story that the media has been covering concerning Prairie Bible Institute. I don’t want to confront the story directly right now. However, I do want to confront the way people have been reacting to it.
If you are a “Peeb” and you’re on Facebook, you know that there are a couple of Facebook groups made of of PBI students, past and present. The atmosphere between the two main groups somewhat resembles Christmas in Sarajevo during the Balkan War. Some of the comments I have seen tossed around by “friends” of PBI accuses the “survivors” of PBI of being “bad Christians” because the survivors are openly airing “dirty laundry” that will somehow affect the school negatively. In effect, “Be good Christians and keep this to yourselves. You don’t want to risk God’s wrath by speaking negatively about His school.”
Now I have looked deep into Scripture, and I have yet to find any verse anywhere that calls anyone to put their faith in a school. Or any institution, for that matter. Last I checked, Isaiah 40:8 does not say, “The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the institutions of the faith will stand forever.”
But somewhere along the line, we Christians started believing that our faith in Jesus is somehow rooted in the institutions we build. That somehow, the churches we build and the schools we attend define who we are as Christians.
The reality is, if we let our institutions define who are are as people of faith, then our faith is ultimately based on the institution, and not on Jesus. Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 reads:
“1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.”
Now – as much as some people might feel this way - I am not for one minute suggesting that it is time to tear Prairie down. But we need to step back, and look objectively at the situation.
Here’s the thing… I work at a small church in Airdrie, Alberta. One of several churches in this city of 40,000 – and it seems like each week, I hear of another church being “planted” in Airdrie. I would hazard a guess that what little growth churches experience here does not come from new conversions, but from people moving to the city or more likely from “church hopping”. Planting a church usually doesn’t mean outreach and growth – it usually means another church gets smaller next Sunday.
This is what I mean about putting our faith in institutions. It’s not enough that this town has an Evangelical Free Church – now we need an Evangelical Missionary Church. But now that we have an Evangelical Missionary church, we need an Evangelical Mennonite Church. And so on. And so on.
But maybe – maybe for some reason, the Evangelical Mennonite Church needs to set up shop. Maybe for some reason, it’s time for the Evangelical Free Church to close its doors, and for a new work to begin.
Whenever we cling too hard to the institutions we build, we blind ourselves to the work that God is doing in our midst. Sometimes, we need to let go of something in order for God to do something bigger and better. Sometimes, we need to let God continue with what He’s doing and not try doing the same thing.
Otherwise, the institutions we build can become chains that hold us back…
…and there’s too much work to be done to allow ourselves to be chained down…
…and McFaith won’t be enough.