According to USA Today most mega churches are just barely squeeking by. They aren't really growing. Unbelievers are still not visiting and these churches keep shuffling people from other churches. When you consider the million dollar budgets some of these places have, one wonders: where does it all go? It's what I and many others have been saying for years: church is for believers. When you make it about the seeker (unbeliever) you'll do what you have to in order to get attention. Even more so, it's not even about us, it's about glorifying God. I find it hard to see how that can happen when pastors are doing everything from the ridiculous to the near blasphemous at church on Sunday morning. One quote stands out
"The megachurch story is not really about growth, it's about shifting allegiances. People want to feel good about who they already are," says Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University in Indianapolis. "If church is too challenging or not entertaining, they'll move on."
Sadly, it's not about entertaining, and it's supposed to be challenging. We have to have our lives challenged by God's word. Look at how many times Jesus upset people with his words. Not very seeker sensitive. It goes on to say:
"You can create a church that's big, but is still not transforming people. Without transformation, the Christian message is not advanced," says Ed Stetzer, head of Lifeway Research in Nashville, which did the Outreach study.
As someone pointed elsewhere (Aldous Huxley in Brave New World I think) we will be ruled by our pleasures. When the church buys into the entertainment model, pleasure has gone to church. Any wonder there have been a slew of churches reaching those "controversial" sex sermons?
I highly recommend this great post by my friend SoiSauce (Jonathan Chan) called: Why I'm not Evangelical. He gets to the heart of what I'm trying to say.
Will we learn? I don't know but, here are a few responses from the article. Some are funny, but the first one catches the spirit that has captured many American churches.
Stats show the average worshiper only gives 2.3% of their income!
Stats show that 80-90% of Mega church attenders come from other churches.
However, mega churches do a great job of meeting felt needs geared toward a culture that seeks to get what it wants, feel good help now!
It's cheap entertainment as long as you don't let them suck 10% tithing out of you.
Music. Lots of good looking women in nice clothes.
You get to sit next to a pretty gal who wouldn't give you a glance on the street; and more than likely the minister will tell everybody to hug each other.....thatsa very nice.
If the preacher tells a good yarn...so much the better.
Best actors in town by far. You almost believe that they believe, but you know better.
Walmart could go into the God business and start their own religion. You could shop on Sunday morning and attend church at the same time. They could have a sale on "spirituality." Everything else is for sale in this country. Only $2.98 for $5 worth of spirituality. They could hire Rev. Osteen to be a greeter. He could stand at the door and flash his saccharine smile as people enter the church/store.
I went to a mega-church in atlanta with a friend a few years back and it was aweful. It was managed like a concert or stage act and it did not feel like church. And considering they gave me a tithing envelope (they accepted Visa) on my way in, passed a plate, and asked each of us for our envelopes on the way out I was pretty happy to be back at my smaller church with the bigger faith. Religion is not about treating people like cattle. Not everyone wants a Wal-Mart meets rock concert version of religion.
Yes, Jesus taught not to judge, but he also warned about false prophets.
A sermon is not a Christian sermon if it excludes what Jesus did on the cross.
Gospel is first a bad news before it is a good news. You can just pick and choose what you want to hear.
I hope this will be the death of the Mega Church. How about just building a small church and invest the other 50 million dollars on the less fortunate?