The Hideous Monster of Institutionalism in the Church of Christ (Pt. 1)


Gene Getz in his book Sharpening the Focus of the Church lists the symptoms of institutionalism in general and then how some of that unfortunately fleshes out in many churches.
In general:
1. The organization (form and structure) becomes more important than the people that make up the organization.

2. Individuals begin to function in the organization more like cogs in a machine.

3. Individuality and creativity are lost in the structural mass.

4. The atmosphere in the organization becomes threatening, rather than open and free; people are often afraid to ask uncomfortable questions.

5. The structural arrangements in the organization have become rigid and inflexible.

6. People are serving the organization more than the objectives for which the organization was brought into existence.

7. Communication often breaks down, particularly because of repressive atmosphere and lots of red tape.

8. People become prisoners of their procedures. The “policy manual” and the “rule book” get bigger, and fresh ideas are far and few between.

9. In order to survive in a cold structure, people develop their own special interests within the organization, creating competitive departments and divisions. The corporate objective gives way to a multitude of unrelated objectives which, inevitably, results in lack of unity in the organization as a whole.

10. Morale degenerates; people lose their initiative; they become discouraged and often critical of the organization and of others in the organization–particularly its leaders.

11. As the organization gets bigger and as time passes, the process of institutionalism often speeds up. A hierarchy of leadership develops, increasing the problems of communication from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. People toward the bottom, or even in the middle of the organizational structure, feel more and more as if they “really don’t count” in the organization.

When you have these symptoms in an organization, institutionalism is already in its advanced stages.

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