Family is family despite ideology. Despite embarrassments, hurt feelings, and attacks from outside, families defend their own. Nations and their armies do the same. Marriage is marriage despite ideology. For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Cultural institutions like these are witnesses to the unity that can be achieved when love manifests itself in commiment. Institutions like these, institutions of true commitment, are a prophetic witness against the post-Reformation church.
While the family that prays together stays together, the church that prays together retains the option to go their separate ways for any, even amiable, reason. Your small, boring church filled with old people becomes a prison. Doctrinally questionable young people become a danger. The church a couple more miles down the road has better music, more conservative dogma, more charisma, better preaching, more spirit. This approach is perfectly acceptable in the modern church. We wouldn't dream of judging church changers. They are us. We are them.
Here's David Fitch:
"We see how the church gets ideologized all the time. 'Oh that church is the Bible church – they believe in the Bible' implying the others don’t. Or we’re the church that believes in community. The others somehow don’t. That church? They’re the gay church and that one is the church that is against gay marriage.' We all know this phenomena and have participated in it.
"Generally speaking, it is the human tendency to form communities around ideas. People gather for certain reasons having to do with needs, whether economic, social or psychic. We articulate how to meet these needs in the form of ideas we are pursuing together. We rally around these ideas as common causes that enable us to organize to meet these various needs. The study of ideology, in its various brands, studies how we come together in these ways – what holds us together.
"I want to show how whenever we extract ideas like this from its context – where the idea makes sense and is practiced – it tends to become ideologized in a bad way...
"I try to show how our core beliefs turned into ideological ideas (what Zizek calls Master Signifiers). The 'inerrant Bible,' 'the Decision for Christ' and 'the Christian Nation' have all become these kind of ideological banners that set us in antagonism against the culture we seek to witness the gospel. In the process, we turn the world into enemies."
The alternative is the local church. The church right down the road. The church of this place. Just as we are born into a family without our being consulted (disagreeable though they may be); circumstance, chance, our own decisions, and the will of God place us. Just as marriage is most meaningful and at the height of its beauty and sanctity when it is seen as a lifelong commitment, the church is fulfilling its deepest calling when it not only prays together but stays together. The concept of the global church denominating itself has not, itself, failed the test of time. However, the way in which the church has chosen to denominate itself, across ideological and stylistic lines, has failed the test of time. The local church is a faithful alternative.
"It is only through 'place' that we break the cycle of ideological church. It is only through engaging in the practices of being the local expression of Christ’s body that we can break out of the entanglements of ideological cynicism..."