Between Movement and Institution

by Mario Vega

The Christian church was born as a movement that rapidly spread throughout the world. As time passed, the church began to institutionalize, and its nature as a movement began to fade.

Throughout the years, God has provided revivals to not only revitilize the institutionalized church but to also generate new renewal movements. As time passes, however, even these new renewal movements begin to institutionalize.

Not everything in a movement is good, nor is everything bad in an institution. A movement has the advantage of freshness, dynamism, and enthusiasm, but  it’s only through institutionalization that a movement can retain the results and preserve those results over time.

Regarding the cellular model, we still continue to call it a movement. And it is indeed. The cell movement is spreading rapidly throughout the world, and it it has freshness and dynamism. However, many studies have already been made, and many books have been written. Entire denominations have adopted the cell model as their chief strategy. Are we, then, beginning to see the institutionalization of the cell work? Probably. But as I said before, that is not necessarily bad.

The key lies in maintaining a balance between the movement and the institution. This is not easy, but it is possible. We will talk about that balance on the next  blog.  But meanwhile, what do you think of the current topic?


Translation into Spanish:

Entre el movimiento y la institución

La iglesia cristiana nació como un movimiento que rápidamente se propagó alcanzando diversas naciones. Cuando el tiempo transcurrió la iglesia comenzó a institucionalizarse y al mismo tiempo sus caractersticas de movimiento comenzaron a perderse.

La iglesia ya institucionalizada ha necesitado en diversos momentos de avivamientos que generan nuevos movimientos de renovación. Con el tiempo los mismos comienzan a institucionalizarse también.

No todo en un movimiento es bueno como tampoco no todo en la institución es malo. El movimiento tiene la ventaja de la frescura, el dinamismo, el entusiasmo. Pero solamente la institucionalización puede retener los resultados de un movimiento y preservarlos en el tiempo.

En el caso del modelo celular, todava continuamos llamándole movimiento. Y en verdad lo es. El movimiento celular se propaga con rapidez en todo el mundo, posee frescura y dinamismo. No obstante, se han realizado ya bastantes estudios y escrito muchos libros. Denominaciones enteras han adoptado el modelo y es parte de su metodologa trabajo. ¿Nos encontramos, entonces, ante el inicio de la institucionalización del trabajo celular? Probablemente. Pero, como dije antes, eso no necesariamente es malo.

La clave se encuentra en conservar un balance entre el movimiento y la institución. Lo cual no es fácil pero s posible. De esto hablaremos la siguiente semana. Pero, mientras tanto, ¿que opina de este tema?

4 thoughts on “Between Movement and Institution

  • Thank you very much for this very insightful article, Brother Mario.

    Understanding how movements and institutions interact was a key goal in my research in my attempt to understand how God works systematically through cell churches and how it might be possible to bring that systematic movement to function as leaven within the USA mainline church institutional system.

    As Elim is such a good example of a church system functioning at a very high quality, your observations and insights on Elim’s experiences reveal so many excellent principles of how God chooses to work within large groups of highly committed Christians focused on making disciples.

  • I believe our most sinister enemy is complacency, and when that balance between having a sense of movement and being institutionalized, leans towards the institution, that is when we begin to see complacency take over. It is extremely challenging to keep the focus on God’s agenda and not make what we are donig about our own agendas. I believe that Jesus had an incredible ability to endear Himself to people from all social, economic and political strata. He was able to get to the heart of people and connect with them at the core of their being. This is a challenge that we as leaders face. Being able to relate to the people in our spheres who are non-believers, and connecting with them sincerely and in love in such a way, that they see beyond any institution, and see the heart of Christ. That is what is truly attractive to people, seeing heart of Christ in someone else, and that is truly a rare and miraculous thing to see in this fallen world.

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