The most clearly laid-out reality that every movement (or revolution) must become an institution; or die

From Brian P (who I do not know), comment #7 on this site.

Before you read it, which I highly, highly recommend, I should tell you that I italicized some parts myself for emphasis, the first two quoted sections are Brian responding to the site owner, when Brian says “IC” he’s referring to the “Institutional Church,” and if you want some great reflections from Scot McKnight related to Barna’s insights in Revolution that go beyond his more surface findings, listen to this podcast. I yield the floor to Brian;

“I’ve come to a point where I’m at peace where I am, and I enjoy being with ICers, nonIcers etc etc.”

I’m very happy for you!

” It’s just enjoying life and walking with Jesus, no labels”

Heh heh.

That works as long as it’s just you by yourself.

When it will fall apart is when you get together with your fellow Revolutionaries to do something together. Especially if they start having kids. When the blessed moment arrives, everyone in the church will be happy. But then the questions start coming:

So do we baptize the baby now, or wait until he/she is older?
If/when we baptize, do we do it by sprinkling, or by physically dunking people in water?
What exactly are we going to teach this child? Will we use a formal list of teaching points?
And of course now it’s time for Junior’s first communion. How often does that happen anyway? Once a week? Once a month? And what exactly is Junior drinking, anyway?
Wine? Grape juice? From little dixie cups or from one big communal cup?

I’m just getting started.

Think this stuff is trivial? Well, yes, yes it is. But you’re going to find that, in this and in so many other decisions, you have to make choices as to what you will and will not do together. And when you do, sure as sunrise, you’re going to have a small, offended minority who will walk out, convinced that you’ve fallen into error.

Eventually you’ve got a “way things are done”.

And after the first few times you have guest speakers come in who tear that order apart, you’re going to start making sure anyone who gets in your pulpit (or whatever) has the proper education in the way things are done, AND in the Bible. That means your own seminaries.

Until the day you wake up in about thirty or forty years with your own seminaries, your own governing structure, your own specific doctrine… and you realize that you’re a denomination in all but name. But of course you don’t call yourself a denomination. You call yourself “the community who seeks after God”.

Just like all the other denominations :). You’d be surprised at how many of them insist that they are *the* true church, usually started by rebels not much different from yourself.

And then in the second generation your kids start noticing all the flaws in the edifice you and your fellow revolutionaries have built. They make a noise, and pretty soon THEY are starting a revolution against YOU and complaining about the IC (or whatever the cool buzzword is) and how it ‘doesn’t get it’. And the cycle starts anew.

I say this, because I’m from a country that was started by just such religious movements. Ever hear of the Puritans? The word originally meant those who wanted to ‘purify’ the Church of England from what they considered it’s idolatrous practices … to make a clean church that would just follow Jesus without all the baggage. When they were run out of England, they came to America to build this ‘perfect church’ from the ground up.

The end result of that, four hundred years later, is places like Church O. How well would you say the experiment worked?

I’m not saying that a new denomination is necessarily bad. Very often, the IC *doesn’t* get it. I am banned from my parent denomination’s most prestigious university because I speak in tongues. A new denomination can very well be a move of God to prod the church *as a whole* in a new direction.

What I am saying is that what you and your fellow revolutionaries are doing has been done before many, many times in the history of the church. It can be a very good thing, as long as you don’t expect too much.

After all, what alternative do you have ? Quit associating with Christians altogether and go totally solo? That, IMO, is the biggest mistake of all.

Why? Because the fundamental lesson of Jesus is *love*. Love means learning to live with people who are very different from you. Church — revolutionary or not — is a perfect laboratory for this, because you find all kinds of rude, arrogant people whom you would otherwise have nothing to do with. Learning to function with such people in love is as good a lesson in being Christlike as anything else I can think of.


Brian P.

2 thoughts on “The most clearly laid-out reality that every movement (or revolution) must become an institution; or die

  1. I think it’s a good thing – it just shows that the church is constantly evolving and adapting. It shows the church’s versatility and why the “gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

    The problem with us humans is that the moment we make it a movement we set rules for behaviour, so its no wonder that the next generation will rebel against it! But no matter, the church is adaptable.

  2. Yip! Absolutly agree with you 100% Brian. Good observation. I think the problem may lie in the fact that more often than not, the church will not yield though, it will not reform, and people that do get frustrated with it find themselves not accepted. Take Martin Luther for example. I’m no expert for sure, but from what I understand, Martin never wan’t to start his own movement, he just wanted reform.
    I like to think of myself as a fundamentalist in the truest sense of the term… if only I could find a fundamentalist church in the truest sense of the term….:)

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