The church has a meaning as an association of people who believe in the Lord Jesus, and therefore the Church is also called a member of the body of Christ. So, the Church is not just a mere building but refers more to the fellowship of the faithful. Meanwhile, a social institution is an institution that regulates procedures or procedures aimed at meeting basic human needs and has the aim of creating order in society for a better life condition or atmosphere.
The existence of rules or procedures that must be followed by members of the institution itself basically aims to achieve the same goals as well as possible. Some examples of social institutions are families, schools, and various organizations in society.
Until now, there are still many people who think that after the goals of Church reform have been achieved, the Church is the same as a social institution. Although the Church also has a social function, the Church is not actually a social institution. In order to study and understand more about the differences between church and social institutions, here are some differences that you can read and learn from.
1. The church is spiritual
Unlike social institutions which are worldly, the Church is more spiritual in nature. The spiritual nature here means that the Church always tries to fulfill the spiritual needs of the people. This need will be fulfilled by the existence of various activities organized by Church administrators such as praying together, worship, retreats, meditation, outbound activities, and various other activities. These things will indirectly help the faith of the people to develop in the presence of better psychological or mental conditions. It may be a little difficult to understand what spiritual need is, so let me explain a little more. Everyone will have two types of needs, namely physical needs that are closely related to fleshly desires and spiritual needs that are closely related to spiritual desires.
If you really yearn for a peaceful mood, to feel love from both neighbor and God Himself, that is your spiritual need. And it is needs like these that the Church is trying to meet. You can see and feel a measure of spiritual growth in yourself. If you have applied more and more of God's words as stated in the Bible, it means that your faith has started to grow. Losing anxieties, doubts, fears, and always including God in all your life's journey can also be a sign of the growth of your faith. As a human being who lives in an advanced era, the fulfillment of spiritual needs will be very necessary. Because, just getting rich doesn't guarantee your inner satisfaction or your own happiness.
2. The church is not coercive
The difference between church and social institutions is that the Church is not coercive. In social institutions, there are many rules that aim to regulate human life for the better and are coercive in nature. Take for example the existing rules at school. Indirectly, you will be forced to follow the existing rules in order to maintain order in the school. This is found differently in the Church. The church does teach us to follow and obey God's commands and all His laws, especially the law of love.
Because of God's great love for humans, humans have free will which makes humans special and different from other creatures created by Allah. With this free will, people can choose to do everything, including whether they want to believe in Allah and follow all of His teachings or not. The church here never forces it and the task of the Church is only to help increase the awareness of the people to remain grateful for all the graces that have been received from God Himself. And this is closely related to the principles of the Church's social teaching as a fundamental thought in which we must love and help each other unconditionally.
3. Not meeting the necessities of life
Due to the recognition of Christian religious pluralism by the Church, this has made the Church more open to her surroundings. Although the Church also cares about the condition of the people and society around her by making various donations and various other humanitarian assistance, the main goal of the Church is not to meet the needs of life physically. Social institutions are still divided into several institutions that have the aim of meeting the needs of human life. For example, there are educational, political, religious, and so on. The existence of all these institutions aims to meet human needs in various fields or sides of life.
4. Legal sanctions
The existence of legal sanctions is also a difference between churches and social institutions. In the Church, the laws taught are God's laws which aim to make human life better and moreover to bring humans closer to God and to be with God in the future. As we see and feel, if we oppose these laws, we are committing sins. And, the sanctions for sin or what is commonly known as the consequences of sin according to the Bible will only be felt after death.
This is of course different from social institutions. In social institutions, all regulations that are violated will receive direct legal sanctions. Take for example when you were at school and you were late to go to class or forgot to collect existing assignments. You will get violation points directly as a penalty for your actions. Because there are legal witnesses that are clear and can be felt directly by the violator, many people will try to obey the existing regulations.
5. Is universal
It is different with social institutions that are local in nature, the Church has a universal character. This is because the Church throughout the world upholds the same values, namely the values that come from God through Jesus Christ as stated in the Bible. Universal also means that the Church is open to all people from all walks of life, and this will certainly be different if we are to compare with social institutions. In social institutions, take for example as a school, we can see that the learning values that are upheld in a school from one country to another will certainly be different.
For example, in Indonesia, our learning system will try to shape us as individuals who are more disciplined and dexterous in doing the assigned assignments. Whereas in the country of Findland, the learning process will try to be adjusted and maximized as best as possible so that students do not need to bring homework and have more time with their families. At the primary school level, age-based rules will also be limited. So, if you cross a certain age limit, you will not be able to study at a certain level of education. Surely this will be different, right? The church will accept whoever you are regardless of your background.
6. Forms of regulation
The difference between church and social institutions can then be seen from the form of regulations or norms that are trying to apply. Basically, the norms which the Church wants to apply are very basic and fundamental but in practice in everyday life, it is also quite difficult to do. Take for example, we are forbidden to lie but in practice we lie very often. This is different from the form of regulations established in social institutions. Maybe there will be several rules such as, you are required to come on time, wear complete attributes, and so on which are actually quite complicated to do, especially for those who have just joined certain social institutions.
However, in practice, even though we often break some of the rules in these social institutions, we will still try not to violate the existing rules. And in fact, the number of violations we commit is far less than the number of our obedience to the rules that apply. Although it cannot be denied that the Church also has a function that can be said to be the same as a social institution, but still the two are different things. The existence of activities carried out by the Church such as making donations to the poor and participating in making donations to victims of natural disasters are a few examples of the role of the Church as a social institution. Some of the things that the Church and social institutions have in common are such as a membership structure, being open to society, having a vision and mission, and having a budget.
So those are some of the differences between church and social institutions that I can share with you. Hopefully with this little information that I can provide, you can better understand the difference between the Church and social institutions and this can also help increase your insight about the Church and everything related to it.