Father Stephen, as usual, is miles ahead of me and more pragmatic as well, but thank God, we're on the same road! Here is an excerpt from his latest post Risking Everything. Read his whole post by returning to the linked title. Here's some of what he writes…
It is quite possible for a local church (as in a local parish, though we could be describing the more accurate sense of “local” church and mean the Orthodox Church in America or the Russian Orthodox Church, etc.) to go about what looks like the work of the Church, and in fact not be doing the work of the Church. The sacraments may be present (these are utterly essential aspects of the life of the Church). Fr. Alexander Schmemann is quoted as having said: ‘The Church is not an institution that has mysteries; it is a Mystery that has institutions.’ But it is quite possible to put things the other way around, and instead of serving the salvation of each member, be serving the creation and the fostering of the false self.
Our American way of life has tended to mold the local church into the local religion store. It offers various programs and activities that keep everyone involved and even maximizing the “ministries” of its members. But it can also simply be a beehive of activity, none or little of which has much to do with the healing of the soul.
In every activity of the Church, whether it is liturgical, or educational, or building buildings, what have you, each activity should serve for the healing of the soul and the nurture of the true self. If not, then the Church has simply become one more secular activity that is destroying true life rather than fostering it.
So, what is at stake? Everything.