To say that institutional religion is not wildly popular these days would be an understatement. We are all for freedom and protest and we take it as axiomatic that everyone should be able to do his own thing. Not only the church, but any institution is regarded with the gravest suspicion. We link institutions with dreary bureaucracies and find it hard to discover a vestige of life in any of them.

It is not surprising that the church comes in for its share of the general criticism. Take worship. The Bible does not contain a specific command to believers to worship on Sunday, though there are references in the New Testament to worship on that day as the practice of the early church. But all through the ages Christians have seen Sunday as the day of worship. Whether on that day or some other, there can be no doubt that a gathering for worship is important. Anyway, there is a specific direction not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25).

But when we do this it is easy to concentrate on the wrong things. We can get caught up in the rituals of approach to God. Whether we feel that the right way is that of set forms or whether we feel we must renounce all set forms, we can so concentrate on the act of worship that we see little beyond that. The right performance of worship becomes an end in itself.

Other things follow. If worship is so important, then we must have an appropriate sanctuary. We take steps to erect a worthy building and that lands us in expenditure for maintenance. We provide for choirs, service sheets, hymn books, and a multitude of aids to worship. We give thought to the needs of specific groups, such as young people. We find the need for choirs, Sunday schools, organizations for men and for women, ...

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