Defining institutions

Defining instiutions

Some people talk about the institutional church as opposed to the organic (relationship driven) church. I don’t think the distinction is fair. The language usually frames churches with over 30 people and a complex structure as institutional and inferior.

Most local churches with buildings and staff are not completely driven by structure and programs. There are organic elements in very large highly structured churches. Conversely most house churches have some structure and some layers of complexity. In short “institutional” churches have organic elements, and “organic” churches have institutional elements.

I don’t think the question is whether your church is an institution or not. The question is what type of institution are you. There are a number of different types of church structures like congregational and episcopal. I’ve started using those labels more because they are accurate, and don’t imply anything negative.

It doesn’t take long when you lead a house church to realize that getting rid of some structure can help. This is particularly true when dealing with certain kinds of people. It also doesn’t take long to realize that what you’ve changed is only a fraction of the whole situation. The bulk of church life and church leadership is still dealing with the same old issues that have existed for thousands of years.

  1. #1 by Andrew on February 27, 2005 - 1:20 am

    Hear hear! Good thoughts. Could we say there’s four main institutional church structures: congregational, episcopal, presbyterian, and house?

  2. #2 by Scott Greider on February 27, 2005 - 9:52 pm

    I don’t know you, and I just happened upon your blog through the Worship Freehouse, but I’m glad you posted this. Although the “emergent” movement does many things well, a gracious tone in dealing with those whith whom they disagree has not often been one of them. Thank you for being fair, gratious, and charitable. Keep it up.

    Scott Greider

  3. #3 by Paul Fromont on February 28, 2005 - 12:33 am

    Too true amigo….

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