David Moberg has described the life cycle of religious organizations in The Church as a Social Institution. His model suggests five predictable stages. FIGURE 1 In the beginning of the ascending curve there is a phase of incipient organization characterized by a negative reaction to existing churches, emotional enthusiasm for the new church, and diffused leadership. Second, as the age and effectiveness of the organization increase, there is a phase of formal organization characterized by membership commitments, specification of goals, symbolic separation from the larger society, and a gradual move from charismatic leaders to rational or bureaucratic leaders. Third, as the curve rises to a crest, there is a phase of maximum efficiency characterized by decisions based on research, increased tolerance of other groups and society, rapid expansion of the formal organizational structure, and rapid growth. Fourth, in the descending curve there is a phase of institutionalization characterized by an established bureaucracy, declining support for the distinctives that helped bring the group into existence, increased diversity of beliefs, interests, and commitment, and membership becomes passive and remote from leadership. Finally, the curvedeclines to nothingness in a phase of disintegration characterized by loss of members’ confidence in the institution and its leaders, formalism, indifference, obsolescence, absolutism, red tape, patronage, and corruption.
Crow, K., Houseal, R., Ingersol, S., & Jones, D. (2008). Shall We Reinvent Our 100 Year Old Denomination? Surveying Organizational Models. Journal of the American Society for Church Growth, 19(1), 23-43. Retrieved from https://place.asburyseminary.edu/jascg/vol19/iss1/4