So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” (Acts 6:2, NIV)
It is interesting how fast our emerging, organic, non-institutional forms of life sprout institutions. The apostles went from a group of 12 leaders of a communistic society in which everyone shared everything and few distinctions were made, to the executive committee of an institution. Here we have differeniated ministry, modes of conferring authority, and even standards of selection. By Acts 15, we will have full blown church councils and formal declarations of orthodoxy.
Some see institutions as a fall from grace. It strikes me that institutions are the way God ensures the continuation of his people across generations and geography.
I understand the disdain people have for corrupt or dysfunctional institutions, but it appears to me that institutions are not only biblical but integral to God’s plans.