An institutional worldview causes denominational leaders to look at churches as institutions with a limited life cycle. Smaller churches are seen as religious corporations that are unable to compete in the new reality of the changing marketplace. Small churches that function as relational networks make poor institutions. Any attempt to change the church as an institution is doomed; institutions do not learn, evolve or adapt because they are not alive. A church is a living thing and reborn with each new convert; it does not have a single life cycle.
 The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through CreateSpace.com.
   
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.
Illinois Great Rivers Conference, Official Journal-Yearbook 2004, 38. Cf. Steven J. Goodwin, Catching the Next Wave: Leadership Strategies for Turn-Around Congregations (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1999), 11-15.
People in institutions, however, can learn, evolve and adapt if the institution allows the diversity, pluralism, and differentiation that further individual personal change. Most do not.
For one of the best attempts to update the institutional church, cf. Bill Easum and Bil Cornelius, Go Big: Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006).