Ask Jesus Into your Heart? Part 2
I received the following question from Nicole.
Question for you : what do you make of the “big” evangelical churches that seem to be thriving with memberships in the thousands and the need for multiple services on the weekend to accomodate? Many of them have definitely watered down the gospel to feel good drivel ….and yet, they are not empty, they are HUGE.. Any thoughts?
As I began formulating my answer… I noticed that it just kept getting longer. So I decided just to make it a second post…
My Answer: I have a lot of thoughts. Some are coherent, others are, well, not so much. 🙂 I will give 3 reasons why I think these churches are so big.
First, people need and want something to believe in. So, befitting our consumerist society, they choose a church that fits their appetite. One that won’t make them feel guilty, one that will entertain them. The mega-church movement has adopted America’s “I just want to be entertained” mindset. For instance Rick Warren, pastor of the largest Southern Baptist Church in the world and best-selling author of the Purpose Driven Life, claims he polled the community surrounding his church and asked what their musical preferences were. After determining the popular consensus, he “got rid of the organ” and “set up a rock band.” Now, let me clarify, there is nothing in scripture that deems a “rock” band as inherently evil, but making that change in your worship service based on a poll of the world is not exactly biblical. Too me this is an example of the consumer-oriented approach to marketing the “mega church.” In doing this, the church is taking the emphasis off of God, and making man the focal point. You are what is important…not God. Sounds good doesn’t it? I am important…so entertain me.
Secondly, in today’s society we are individualistic; we value solitude and do not want other people prying in our business. It is much easier to remain anonymous in a mega church, rather than in a smaller church. But I have news for you; the church is the body of Christ. When we join together under one head, Jesus, we are called to support, pray with, encourage, admonish and hold each other accountable according to scripture. But people today do not want accountability. They do not want people knowing their weaknesses. So they take the anonymity of the mega church.
Third, in these churches, the pastors are rock stars. What? Well, what is the one thing that all mega churches have in common? Typically they all have one celebrity teacher/preacher. Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Chuck Swindoll, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, to name just a few…even Charles Spurgeon had a mega church. While some of the men on this list are preaching the pure word, others are not, but what they all have in common is that they are undeniably celebrities, with tv shows, radio talk shows, multi-million best selling authors and so on. I would wager to say that the majority of the people in mega churches go simply to see a “show” with a well-known celebrity pastor. Again while having a “celebrity” pastor is not inherently evil, it is man centric, that is people are going to hear “that” man speak, rather than going to hear the word of God proclaimed. In fact we even have a hint of this in our own churches…who doesn’t enjoy hearing a sermon from the recently retired Pastor J. Visscher? I thoroughly enjoy listening to the man preach, he is great orator …but is that why I go to church? Aside note…the church in which Rev. Visscher is emeritus is the largest in our denomination…just food for thought. 😉 ( Yes, I am just playing devil’s advocate here.)
That is my take on it. But I am just one Christian dad, I am not a sociologist or theologian.