A major part of my just completed PhD dissertation (Fuller Seminary, 2009) deals with the ways traditional denominations need to resist institutionalization in order to remain missionally engaged in culture. The Evangelical Covenant Church is one of a handful of denominations which is taking intentional steps to avoid an unintended, but often predictable, drift towards irrelevance. This article appeared in The Covenant Quarterly and is a condensation of some of the work found in my dissertation.
This drift towards institutionalization is a problem that all institutions are subject to whether religious, educational, political or marketplace. What begins as a wild idea becomes a fire like movement, but over time, unless there is intentional resistance by heretics who continue to throw catalytic agents into the mix, the wild movement becomes domesticated, tame and passe.