Resource: Why Church is an institution, not a movement


The problem with lots of today’s cults invading Christianity is the fact that they switch their definitions around. Are they a pastor or a leader? Are they a movement or a church?

Back in 1977 to this day, CLC/Hillsong have called themselves a “move of God” and a “movement”. Christian City Church has also placated themselves as a movement. Louie Giglio has also advertised his Passion City Church and his Passion Conference rallies as a movement in the USA. These movements will happily call themselves “church” when it’s convenient for them but will insist that they are a “movement” to entice either churches or Christians to join them.

One vision to rule them all and in their darkness bind them…

As a result of this unusual growing phenomena, the role of pastor in these movements has often been diminished while the role of fuhrer/leader has been heavily emphasised. What is often portrayed instead of a pastor is an infallible, prophetic, totalitarian visionary-like-leader emerging from within the mass to lead the “movement”.

To criticise the leader is to criticise the movement – and no where is this philosophy taught in the bible. Nor is this taught how to do church.


This issue of Fighting for the Faith is a must-listen to any Christian concerned with the current projection of Christianity and those who have hi-jacked it for their selfish causes.

Pastor Chris Rosebrough from Fighting for the Faith introduces this very good resource with the following:

“You’ve probably heard it said that the church is a movement, not an institution. That’s not true,.

The church is an institution. It’s not a movement.

And because the church is an institution, it has offices. That’s right. In fact a pastor is a man who is the current office holder of the office of pastor within a congregation. And that office has particular duties and responsibilities and requirements for the person who is the office holder.

So a lot of people don’t understand this. And as a result of the kind-of the loss […] of this idea that the pastor holds an office, their has been a lot of misunderstanding.”

Rosebrough provided three important lectures from Pastor Brian Wolfmueller (Of Tabletalk Radio, Reverend Todd Wilken (Of Issues Etc. Radio) and Pastor Dan Bremer of Grace Lutheran Church.

Here is the episode,

The Church Is NOT A Movement

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

• The Office of Pastor in the Institution of the Church

Source: By Chris Rosebrough, The Church Is NOT A Movement, Fighting for the Faith,, Published 22/05/2015.

Brian Wolfmueller offered this important information in his Conference session titled “Duties of the Pastor: Expectations & Evaluations”:

“Now this passage should settle it for us, but I would be willing to concede the karma of Ephesians 4:12 to the Church Growth Movement if in fact they would pay attention to the context and understand ministry like Paul understands it, that we obtain to the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God.
In other words the equipping of the Saints, that the normal church growth Pastor doing is some sort of evangelism equipping to get more people in, to grow the church as a mark of the church.
But Paul understands the ministry distinctly in terms of doctrine and the different theology of the Church Growth Movement is a different definition of Office.
Now let me say one sentence about the ‘Mega Church Movement’, which is to say that the Mega Church Movement decides that the Church should be huge and so not only is growth a sign of the Church but size is a mark of the Church.
And the result of this shift in theology makes the Pastor now into a Leader, a Manager, a CEO, a Vision Caster. The Mega Church Movement is completely void of theology and the thing that comes in to fill the gap is Harvard Business Review, so that the Pastoral Office is completely turned, changed.
Now you can read the evaluating “The New Mark of the Church” and I’ll get down to the very last part which is this, the problem of the Church Growth Movement and Mega Church Movement is that they are both ‘Movements’. In other words, a Movement stands in contrast to an Institution.
An Institution is something that is set in place, something that is established, something that stays put.

A movement is the precise opposite of that.

And while an Institution needs a minister, a movement needs a leader.

An institution needs a founding document while a movement needs a vision – and we are almost completely given over to the understanding of the church as a movement.

I’ve even heard some of our own talk about the ‘Reformation Movement’ or the ‘Christian Movement’ or the ‘Confessional Movement’. No, the church is instituted like marriage and family. It’s set in place by Christ so that there is a place where the Lord will go, where the Lord will be to distribute His gifts.
So our theology informs our understanding of the Office and the right theology is the best theology and dear Saints it is our theology. Our confidence in Christ and His promises that He forgives our sins, that He is with us till the end, that He is coming for us, that He has placed us in this ordered world to receive His gifts and serve our neighbour, beautifully puts the Pastor in the mist of the Lord’s Church for two things: to preach and to administer the sacrament; to teach and baptise and give out the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and the comfort distributed in the Office of Pastor is also the comfort that we sinners embrace as Jesus serves us, Amen.” [47:48 – 51:17]

For more sermons on this topic, listen here:

Browse their lecture notes by visiting these links:

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4 replies

  1. Whenever you hear the word “Movement” after their name… it’s time to run the other way.

    They’re basically distinguishing themselves as not being part of the true Church, and instead they’ve decided to fall away morphing into something different and bizarre that’s off to the side instead.

    “Movement” labels them as being in Phase One of their own apostasy breakaway from the truth. It’s a signal they’ve decided to so something in the opposite direction away from Biblical truth and thus away from the finish line.

  2. Umm, the Church is the Covenant People of God, not an institution nor a movement.

  3. This was very informative. Thank You!

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