One of the models of church development are the “Four Stages”. In this model you start with the Unreached Phase. Here there is no church. The pioneer church planter goes in and starts bible studies and disciples people to belief. There are simple house bible studies that occur.
This gives rise to the next phase of Movements. Here house bible studies grow and some begin to develop into churches doing the functions found in Acts Chapter 2. There are house bible studies and simple churches that develop side by side and a “movement” to Jesus begins. There is a high degree of the “Priesthood of the Believer” where everyone is involved.
The next phase is Formalization. Here churches may start to have buildings cause they grow in size and have the need for children’s rooms and study rooms and a place for worship. This is good – but the Priesthood of the Believer begins to decline cause roles become specialized and the outreach to the community dwindles cause people begin to focus on church activities. Also here gifted people arise and become superstars making some feel inadequate or defer to others because of their specialized gifting.
The last phase is Institutionalization. Here roles become very specialized. Institutions grow, churches become large, Seminaries develop to grow superstars instead of them emerging from ministry, and people are educated to be leaders. Roles in the church become siloed and the Priesthood of the Believer further declines. Outreach tends to further decline cause much effort is spent on keeping the functions of the church and institutions going.
None of these are bad. But the item to consider is the turn inward and loss of outward focus and dwindling of the Priesthood of the Believer (1 Pet 2:5). Let’s build all people up to serve (Eph 4:11-13), not make sharing Jesus and other roles become relegated to a few overworked people. Let’s try and keep church simple like the first century house churches and not so formal. And let’s keep looking outward and less inward.