In a day when people question whether institutions (whether denominations, seminaries, or so-called "big-steeple churches") are worth sustaining, I found these words helpful: from Jones and Armstrong, Resurrecting Excellence, 127-8:
Too often, and particularly in recent decades, Christians in America have taken the wrong things for granted: the existence of religious institutions, for example. We have presumed that their permanence is a given and that our key task is to manage them as the regrettably necessary structures for the practices and friendships that really give life to Christian community. The unfortunate result is that many of them have lost their Christian vitality, their Christian focus and direction. This is true of congregations as well as judicatories, of seminaries and colleges as well as health care institutions--indeed, whole networks of religious institutions whose ecology has been crucial to shaping Christina life and imagination.
Part of the problem, as we have already suggested, is that we have too often accepted the romantic view that real vitality is to be found in practices and friendships, and institutions are at best necessary evils...We carry with us a mistaken myth that institutions are at best the necessary chaff that we must winnow in order to find the pure wheat of the gospel. But that is not faithful to Scripture (it ignores Israel and its institutions, among other things), and it is not faithful to the empirical realities of our life together. We need to reclaim an understanding of what is involved in the creation and renovation, sustenance and extension of institutions that do need criticism from time to time. But the romantic notion that we are somehow going to find a purer community apart from the reality of institutions is fallacious.