Saturday, June 11, 2011

Emotion and Pragmatics

First watch.

My home is in Savannah, Georgia. Because of that, I'm deeply concerned about the church here.

Savannah Christian Church is this city's only mega-church. The leadership there is constantly asking people for money. This video is simply another example. Notice how they try to raise another $10 million. They appeal to both emotion and pragmatics. There is no scriptural evidence given for this monstrous expense of money.

As the church, we need to speak out against this sort of thing. Some may claim that I'm being divisive. So be it. There is too much at stake to silently watch churches manipulate people into sacrificing their money for another church palace. Why not raise $10 million to care for the poor and spread the gospel around the world? You don't have to build more buildings to reach people with the gospel. They understand it just fine in a living room.


Arthur Sido said...

I need to find out who did the campaign video because that is better quality advertising than the Fortune 500 company I work for. The buzzword seems to be "state of the art". Of course state of the art=expensive and it also implies "better than the other churches you might go to". I wonder how much of that $10,000,000 is going to go to Guatemala versus how much goes to building "state of the art" facilities for middle class Americans to enjoy for a few hours a week.

One guy said at the 5:15 mark: There's not enough churches. Really? I think what he meant was there are not enough of "our kind" of churches in Savannah. I ran a Yahoo! local search for just Savannah addresses and there were over 500 results. According to Wikipedia there are 136,286 people in Savannah itself so that makes one church for every 273 people. It would be nice if he recognized that there is only one church in Savannah and Jesus Christ is the head of that church and He is completely disinterested in capital campaigns to build new temples. We don't need more "churches", we need more Christians seeking to make disciples and that doesn't require $10,000,000 capital campaigns and state of the art facilities.

Is this sort of blog post divisive? Absolutely. Let me be blunt. It divides those who see Christianity as a means to develop earthly kingdoms from those who seek to simply preach Christ and Him crucified. This sort of extravagance is sinful, pure and simple and if the church is not going to call out sin in its ranks, who is?

Eric said...


This church definitely is all about growth. The vast majority comes from people leaving other churches to come to theirs. They understand the lure of state of the art comfort.

I also wondered how much of the $$ is going to Guatemala. My guess is that they attached the international missions angle to this project to make it seem less obviously about what it is - building more buildings.

As for the man who said we need more churches, he is yet another Christian who does not understand what the church is.

We desperately need a new Reformation of the church.

Tim A said...

"Some may claim that I'm being divisive."

If you look at division in the scriptures, it never deals with actual truth, it mostly deals with false teaching and attitudes of wanting to be top dog. Your effort has nothing to do with that. I know from experience that institutionalized leaders love to use divisive and direct it to anyone who disagrees with them since they think they heard God tell them to do this extravaganza. It's all such a gravy train. The leaders are pushing God's people to pool money to buy goodies that benefit mostly themselves and calling it "giving".

When our previous church did their campaign for an $11 million double sized gym, they put in there $40,000 for some missions effort. It was obviously a posturing for global witness.

The sermon series that was the kick off proof texts for the effort was no less than 2 Cor. 8 & 9 - the giving chapters. The "why" of giving was trumpeted but the "where" of giving was ignored. Pure false teaching.

Eric said...


What you've mentioned seems to be happening all over the place. It makes me ill to think of the manipulation. All that wasted money to keep people comfortable. The teaching to justify the giving is downright false. I'm thankful to the Lord for opening my eyes on the subject.

lovesufjan said...

I try not to go searching for this type of information. There is nothing that you can to do put a stop to it anyways. There will always be churches that ask for money. All it does is make you bitter and judgemental and feel superior becuase your heart has been opened-by the will of God-to the truth. Like saying there is another Christian who doesn't understand what the church is.

I don't go to an instititionalized church. I have learned to live with the fact that there are people who love the instititionalized church. Maybe that is where they are at right now. If that is how they found God and want to give their money to that place-so be it. I pray that God will put a longing in their heart for Him-and maybe that will lead them to search for something more.

Eric said...


Thanks for commenting.

I generally do not go looking for this type of information, but this church is right in our city near where I live. I know many people who attend there and have undoubtedly been asked to give money toward another big building.

This has nothing to do with superiority. Rather, it is me calling our publically a terrible use of money. It has no biblical basis and cannot be justified. If we don't speak out against it, who will?

My hope is that folks at Savannah Christian will begin to question the leadership's manipulative actions in raising unneeded $$$.

Jason_73 said...

Hmmm. I don't know how I feel about commenting on what such and such a church is doing.

What did occur to me though while watching was, what if a mega-church of say, 5000 people split into 15 member simple churches. That would create 330+ new churches in communities. And what if those churches each were deliberate about communicating the gospel with their neighbors and others within proximity. Wow! And think what they could do with 10 million if they didn't have building overhead and salaries!!!

Almost too exciting to imagine!

Grace to you Eric! Keep the posts coming as the Lord gives you spare time. They are always a big encouragement to me.

Arthur Sido said...

It is a fine line we tread. It can be easy to obsess about the errors of the institutional church instead of focusing on disciple-making and unity. That is something I have done and try to be on guard against. On the other hand, if you see excessive materialism as a sin little different from other gross moral sins, are we not to call the church to repent? Who if not us? I don't think we can let errors go unanswered whether something overt like open theism or embracing immorality or whether it is turning the gathering of God's church into a theatrical performance and pouring untold hundreds of millions into empire building in the name of Christ.

Eric said...


I love your idea about churches breaking into smaller bodies. The fascinating thing about Savannah Christian Church is that that they appear (based on conversations I've had) to have a strong small groups ministry. They are in position right now if they wanted to do so to simply make those small groups into local bodies. They already basically function that way anyway.

Eric said...


We do need to find a balance in what we discuss. I think we all probably struggle with that a bit.

I agree that we must call out these abuses that we see, such as the vast waste of money on new church palaces.

Eric H said...

It states:

"Savannah Christian is not about buildings, it's not about bricks and sticks, it's about people."

And then spends the next 8 minutes explaining how Savannah Christian (a.k.a. "the people") just can't function without (more) buildings, bricks and sticks.

Eric said...

Eric H.,

I thought the same things. It's amazing that Savannah Christian didn't see this when they were putting the video together.