Friday, September 30, 2016

A Bad Reason for Returning to the Institution: the Lure of the Mega Church


This is the final installment in my series Ten Bad Reasons for Returning to the Institution.

The mega church is a fairly modern phenomenon. Massive churches with thousands of attendees meeting in a massive building did not exist even 100 years ago. However, today (at least in the USA) every city has at least one. And that one has an inordinate impact on all the churches around it.

My home, Savannah, has one mega church. That church acts as a giant magnet, attracting believers from other local churches. All the others fear it because they don't want to lose their people. Mega churches like this one don't generally grow from conversion but rather just from believers switching churches.

But why do so many Christians these days end up at mega churches?

I can only speak from the American experience; I do not claim to be familiar with church situations in other countries. In this country, bigger and more expensive is often seen as better. Most mega churches have nice, large, comfortable buildings that cost millions (literally) of dollars. "They must be better than the other churches since so many people attend" so the thinking goes. If nothing else, mega churches make church entertaining for kids. Because of this, children pull to go there. I vividly remember one time visiting what I would call a semi-mega church soon after we moved to seminary. It had a very nice wooden Noah's ark outside that the kids could play all over. My son wanted to go back the next week to play on it some more. We didn't go.

Mega churches are, above all else, comfortable. When you arrive, somebody from the "parking ministry" directs you to a spot. After you drop off your kids at the fun house, you can get your caffeine at the coffee shop (the "coffee ministry"). Then it's off to sit through a Sunday School/small group and then a worship service. After that, go home. Easy-peasy.

I guarantee you that if you give in to the pull of the institutional mega church you will gag at yourself. Stay the course in following the biblical model for church life even if you have to walk alone for a while. The worst thing you can do is follow the lure of the mega church.

4 comments:

Peter Horvatin said...

Eric,

Thank you for all your posts. They are so right on! and I have enjoyed all of them. I could go on and on about the mega churches and the development of relationships, etc.. Suffice it to say if they do happen, it would be the exception not the rule.

Thanks Again and God Bless You

Eric said...

Peter,

Thank you and you're welcome. I hope we can all encourage each other in our walks with Christ. It's nice to know that there are other believers out there who have a deep desire to follow God's plan for His own church.

Paul G said...

Hi Eric,
We have the same problem with mega churches here in Australia. They just have more equipment and performers to entertain the crowds. To me it sounds like in a Rock concert and I hardly can hear myself thinking because of the volume.
It somehow attracts young people who like to have the world in a so called church environment.

Someone once told me, 'the closer you can bring a lie to the truth, the more effective the lie becomes'.

Eric said...

Paul,

Even though we are a half a world apart it sounds like our cultures are very similar. Here in the USA we are addicted to comfort and entertainment. This, of course, has made its way into the church. Frankly, it's difficult to compete with mega churches because they make everything so easy.

My prediction continues to be that as we go forward churches will either get bigger or smaller. Mega churches will continue to grow as will smaller groups that meet in homes, coffee shops, etc. The congregational size church (about 200 people) will likely cease to exist within the next 100 years. That end will come faster if and when the government revokes churches' tax free status.