Mega-Church Phenomenon... Where do you stand?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ponycar17, May 10, 2009.

  1. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

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    I really do not have a well-defined opinion on the phenomenon that is sweeping our area but I do feel it's different... I'm speaking of the multi-thousand congregation churches that are popping up in a lot of areas. We have two in our area that are the most noticeable. Both actually have their own paid police traffic directors after services conclude. We've been trapped in traffic from one of them on several occasions since it's close to a Baby's R Us we visit occasionally after our church service. Another is in the other direction toward another town. We were stopped TWICE today by police directing traffic away from that church, from two different outlets. :eek:

    They're ENORMOUS!!!!! They sprang up virtually overnight!! :eek:

    My concerns are as follows:

    1) Most of the members seem to be content to visit, pay their tithes (one of the churches requires prior-year 1040 tax forms to assure proper tithes are being paid) and then leave. Nothing is personal about the arrangement.

    2) The churches hire paid performers and security. In fact, one of them canceled Christmas service a couple of years back because all of the 'performers' weren't available on Christmas Sunday. Imagine that... Christmas service... :eek:

    3) There's just something odd about so many people congregating to a fairly non-personal worship center. It seems to be almost a 'fashionable' thing to do instead of a personal spiritual thing....

    Forgive me if I'm stepping on anyone's toes. I'm not intending to do so. I'm only looking for an explanation of why this worship concept would appeal to someone?

    All opinions are welcomed! :)
     
  2. doug66

    doug66 Member

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    Pony,
    Right or wrong I get a bad feeling about these big time, hollywood style churches. In my minds eye, I see Christ busting up the money changers tables. That is just me. Too each his own. Don't want to start hating.
     

  3. Islandboy

    Islandboy New Member

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    To each his own, I went to a Joel Osteen service in Houston, and while it was entertaining, It felt like feel good sheeple love to me.
    Sorry If you get something from it good but I just don't herd well.
    Seems to me our individual interpretations and reading of the good book should mean more than just One hour on Sunday
     
  4. bcj1755

    bcj1755 New Member

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    1.) Ok, requiring a 1040 to verify the members being a full tithe payer is just WRONG! Tithing is between you and God. If you lie about it, God will know. God will also know if you pay an honest tithe.

    2.) That shows where the church's real priorties lie. They want to put on a good show for Christmas instead of celebrating the birth of Christ.

    3.) Fashionable as in wanted to be accepted by mainstream society. Even if that means cutting corners on the actual dogma (see number 2). It also seems that they are more interested in getting money from the congrigation instead of actually teaching them the Gospel (see number 1).

    The vibe I get form a lot of these "megachurches" is that a lot of them are the false churches warned of in the Bible. Now, I'm not saying that every church with a large congrigation is bad, it's not a bad thing to have a lot of people attending services every week as long as the church is teaching the right message. This country would be a lot better off if more people actually attended church and did it for the right reasons.
     
  5. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

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    Let me give my situation as an example. I've been a head vehicle maintenance committee member for a while at our very small church. That means that I decide the church van's maintenance needs and occasionally turn a wrench myself. I'm also a regular usher.

    My wife was the Church Treasurer for 2 years, until mommy-duty had a higher call. I've seen her spend countless hours tabulating tithing income, talking by phone to determine who should receive funding by certain committee funds, etc... She spent a large amount of time also sending out bills to be paid and tabulating others' tax contributions and preparing reports.

    To turn over the duties to another person we spent some time purchasing a computer for their duties and getting Quickbooks set up on that computer for the new person. We didn't just leave them hanging... :)

    In a small church we try to do our part. In a large church there's no part that most play except by monetary means. So, if you only pay your God regularly are you a good Christian? :confused:
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2009
  6. swiftman

    swiftman Member

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    By their works shall you know them.
     
  7. Marlin T

    Marlin T Well-Known Member

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    Geez Pony, you come up with the dangdest question.

    I have experience with the mega churches, little churches. This goes for denominational and non-denominational too.

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but in short, I received God not because of any of the above. I received God because of super hard times in my life, then trying to do the next right thing one day at a time.

    Now I have to disagree with the premise that you actually have to do something within a church to ‘get’ God. It all has to do with intent in my opinion.

    If your intent is good, either opportunities to help will show up, or they won’t. No matter how big the church.
    For example the money tray, if ya can do; if ya can’t don’t. Now there should be no guilt if you don’t because you can’t, cause if there is guilt, your intent is either misplaced or bad.

    Then comes the differences between religions. This IS NOT a slam on anyone. Let me take the Catholic church. The Catholic Church is more than a religion, it is a nation quite literally. This nation has liberal values as seen by its representatives in the UN. I will not set foot into the Catholic Church if I have a choice, but will not hold it against any members of that church.

    In this way those mega churches usually have the upper hand, because most are non-denominational. This leaves all politics behind, then all that’s left is the word of God.

    Then there is the way that I got God. Me, and my spirit in Gods beautiful nature, holding my hands to the sky, the pleading for help. The help came and it was beautiful. I can honestly say, and know, there is a God.

    I just wish that more people would try to get God, no matter if is the Catholic Church, big church, little church or no church.
     
  8. artabr

    artabr New Member

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    I'm not a "church" fan. I have no problems with them if others wish to attend them.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong believer in God, it's just the fact that when I was a kid of about 12 years old I got turned off of the Catholic Church because it seemed that money and not God was the most important thing to the pastor of my church.
    Other than weddings and funerals, I haven't been back since. I still consider myself Catholic and believe in the teachings of the Church. I just don't like the greed of some of people in the Church.
    I've always prefered to view the creations of God out side of 4 walls anyway.
    I hope He finds favor with my opinion.


    Edit: I wrote my post before I read any of the thread. It looks like I'll be in good company wherever I end up. ;) :)

    Art
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2009
  9. Xaiver56

    Xaiver56 New Member

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    I have recently been saved. I found a church with my wife that is large and probably someday will grow to be a mega church. I love it there. The pastor is a Bible preaching pastor which is important to me. I was raised Catholic but it did not sit well with me, not a hit against Catholics by any means I just think I had a bad church. When I was younger I had a brother who died of cancer and it soured me against God. I let anger build up inside and turned away for a good long while. A while ago I was able to let God back into my heart and I am better for it. I have found a church that I love but I do not think that church defines a persons faith. A personal relationship with Jesus is important, reading the Bible is important, but where you sit on a Sunday does not really define one's faith. It is how you are everyday that marks you, all kinds of people can sit in Church on Sunday for an hour... I guess the point I am trying to make is that I am happy to see more churches popping up because I think we as a country have lost our way, and if it is a good place, with the Bible as it's teaching, then I think it can't be a bad thing.
     
  10. XShooter

    XShooter New Member

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    Last edited: May 11, 2009
  11. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    I work in a Christian camp that partners with about 50 churches of all different sizes (ranging from 50 to almost 5,000 people) spread around Indianapolis and the surrounding area. Because of my position here, I get to spend significant time with the ministers and administrators of these churches, so I have some background with this topic.

    To address your concerns in order:

    1. This is similar even in small churches. In a church of 200 people, it is generally the same 15 to 30 people who serve on all the committees, show up on the volunteer work days, and serve as Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, etc. From my experience, I would say that this is proportionally very similar no matter the congregation size.
    Oh, and on the 1040 thing: that's simply wrong. "Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." The church I attend seems to be doing well financially, so I give to other ministries. That is not the concern of anyone else.

    2. I understand hiring security in order to ensure the safety of the people attending. This is especially important in places where 1,000 or more children are gathered into a particular wing of the building and the majority of adults are elsewhere. It's even quite possible that this is done at the recommendation of their insurance companies.
    As for hiring performers, it's somewhat a matter of perspective. The preacher is a "hired performer" in a way, though the job is certainly much more than his 20 to 45 minutes on Sunday morning. Most large churches have a minister dedicated to running the worship service, even many with less than a thousand in attendance.
    It's impossible to determine when someone is performing and when someone is genuinely worshiping, so I think this has to fall under Jesus' command that we not judge each other, since we see only the outside and not what is in the heart. Instead, I simply have to choose a place where I can focus on worship, no matter what the people on stage are doing. For some people, this is in a meticulously-executed service that is planned out to the minute, and for others (like me) this requires a bit more spontaneity. To each his own, I guess.

    3. For some people, the large group setting where they can "blend in" is the most natural worship setting. It's perhaps a bit impersonal, yes, but much of our lives has become that way (especially in big cities), so they really may not be able to functionally interact in the way families at small, country churches do. Everyone has a different worship style, and none is better or more important than any other. One man may be a great singer, while another worships through his working. We must simply encourage everyone to worship.
    Perhaps attending some of these churches has become the "fashionable" thing to do, but at least it is a start. It's easier to preach to people when they come to listen, even if they're coming for the wrong reasons and with the wrong mindsets. If it's done right, the people won't long be coming because it's fashionable but because they are growing a love of God. If done right, then the Sunday morning service will be only a small part of their church experience, which will also include some kind of service (either within or outside the congregation) and hopefully some personal contact (such as small group meetings of some kind).


    This is actually one of the misunderstandings that makes working in a large church so difficult. Every church needs people to volunteer. For instance, I have an e-mail in my inbox right now from a minister at a church of nearly 5,000 people (average weekly attendance). They just added another service to their Sunday morning children's ministry, and now she has to find an additional 250 volunteers for that hour--plus some to serve as substitutes.
    The fact that 4,000 people come and go each week and "play their part" only by writing a check doesn't mean that the other 1,000 volunteers can be overlooked. Every church needs one or two volunteers (at least) for every 15 or so youth in a classroom. When there are 900 youth, it's just that many more people who need to play their part.
    Actually, I think this misconception is one of the things that makes a big church appeal to some. It always looks like someone else will do the hard stuff. Many people want easy Christianity--the same as they want everything in life to be easy.

    I personally am not inclined to attend a big church. My favorite church to attend is one I found while in college, a small church of about 50 people in small-town Illiniois. I liked knowing everyone and being on a first name basis with everyone on stage. But this is just me, and pleasing me is not the purpose of the church.

    I hope this has helped! I have more to say, and I may come back to comment more, but I'm headed to bed now.
     
  12. Insulation Tim

    Insulation Tim Well-Known Member

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    Nice insight Marlin. Though I am a practicing Catholic (after about a 25 year lapse) I take no offense. Personally for me, my conversation with God is what it's all about. The rest is just accoutrements and a comfort zone.

    I don't like the large mega churches and call them "The Church of the 800-Number".
     
  13. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

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    Back when I was a working musicain, I got a call for the Easter 'gig' in the 'mega' church in our town. Along with the call was a requirement for measurements for 'tux' sizes. Seems that they wanted everyone in the orch to 'match' - EXACTLY. "Hmmm. Okay, good $$, and interesting music. Will do."

    Showed for the rehearsal and was amazed at how their tithes were being spent: Fancy pews, really plush-plush carpet, lots and lots of brass railings, expensive musicans, and fancy lighting and sound systems. The service itself was overwhelmed by all the electronic and lighting pyrotechs, the minister seemed overwhelmed, too. I'm sure that some of the folks were finding what they needed in those surroundings. However, to me, for all the 'stuff' in the church, it seemed kinda empty.

    Mega churches seem to be trying to become the 'new town center' with events taking place every night. Sports, classes, exercise classes, movies, coffee rooms, etc. It's not for me, (church should not be a destination, but a departure point) but I see no harm in these undertakings.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2009
  14. 45nut

    45nut Well-Known Member

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    Pony,

    What a great topic. I'll be glad to chime in here, but first I need to tell CampingJosh - You are THE MAN!! You took all my thunder. :(

    I too, have been involved in small & large churches. As part of the worship team on stage (long haired rock & roll drummer :eek: :D, & vocals), I have seen a lot. There is quite a lot of coordination between the Pastor, Worship Leader, Announcements, Offering, Communion & any special events taking place, i.e. Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas etc. that the average Joe in the congregation doesn't ever think about. The fact that the people, be they paid staff, or volunteers, are well coordinated doesn't waste the congregations time and puts forth every effort to create an atmosphere conducive to worship. Even in a little church of 50 - 100 you need to know how long the singing will be, how long for the offering, are you having communion today then how long the Pastor will need to effectively deliver his sermon.

    I love the feeling of family in a little church and you can get the same feeling at a big church if you want to. You normally go to the same service and sit in the same general area. Get to know those that normally sit around you or go to a Sunday School class. My church uses the idea of small groups which can be be based on age, gender or an activity. I taught a fly fishing small group, and they have them for ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF including Seniors, Military Parents, Roller Blading, Motor Cycling group called "Hell No!":eek:, RVer's, jogging, cooking, Christmas Music, musical instruments, and books of the Bible plus Bible based books like "Battlefield of the Mind". The list is endless. It really helps you to get to know people and make some friends then maybe you will want to do a small group yourself and give a part of yourself to the church family.

    My church isn't a mega-church, but it is a very well functioning 1,000 member church. CampingJosh makes some good points as to the popularity of big churches. One is the point of anonymity. Some people want to go to church and blend into the crowd and that's okay. Just the fact that they are there is good. Maybe they're new to the area or are just shy. Maybe they have a high stress job and just want to go to church and relax.

    At a big church you still need workers, for the children's ministry, Sunday School or Small Groups, worship team, ushers, greeters, etc. The paid staff is actually very small compared to the size of the congregation. Less than 20% of church members pay tithe and the same size core of people volunteer at the big & small churches.

    I am on the worship team (drums - back-up) and the safety & security team. Right now I'm more active with the security team. We have 3 services on Sunday morning and I am worshiping when I have my radio on & ear piece in watching over the sheep, ever alert for people in need of a friendly "Hello, how ya doing?" plus looking out for a wolf in sheep's clothing looking to steal, kill or destroy.

    I grew up in a little A/G church of about 150 - 200 and moved to a bigger church in my teens that was about 1,000 with 150 kids in youth. It was my salvation because the youth was very active and gave me lots to do and kept me out of a lot of normal teenage trouble. I still skipped school, I was just working for my youth Pastor instead of smoking & drinking :D :D

    I have also attended a very large church of around 8,000 - 10,000 people. I was a drummer there and very active in youth & Royal Rangers. I had a lot of friends and spent a lot of time giving my life, money and time. Some of the boys I had when they were 9 or 10 are married with kids of their own. Big churches have a place too. It's just not for everybody.

    Any church that requires me to bring in a copy of my 1040 can kiss off. THAT church doesn't have their priorities in order.

    To the idea of "Professional Performers" at church I have some thoughts. Some churches want to draw a good crowd at peak attendance times like Christmas, Easter etc. As long as the performers they bring in are leading the congregation to worship God, who cares if they are paid or not? If you bring in some Gospel Quartets to sing old and new Gospel Music, do they bless you and make you sing along to the music you listened to as a child and praise God? Again, if they lead you to worship Jesus, isn't that the whole point.

    I have no problem with bringing in special guest singers, musicians, theatrical groups or speakers. I enjoy it just as much with "home grown" talent too. For the most part, I'm a homebody and want to hear my Pastor preach and to see my choir & friends do the special music.
     
  15. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

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    [QUOTE)
    My concerns are as follows:

    1) Most of the members seem to be content to visit, pay their tithes (one of the churches requires prior-year 1040 tax forms to assure proper tithes are being paid) and then leave. Nothing is personal about the arrangement.

    2) The churches hire paid performers and security. In fact, one of them canceled Christmas service a couple of years back because all of the 'performers' weren't available on Christmas Sunday. Imagine that... Christmas service... :eek:

    3) There's just something odd about so many people congregating to a fairly non-personal worship center. It seems to be almost a 'fashionable' thing to do instead of a personal spiritual thing...."[/QUOTE]

    IMHO,
    1) Requiring prior year 1040's is just wrong! That's like saying "I don't trust you, and I want all the money I can get from you"! Tithes were not required in the New Testament Bible. The new church in the book of Acts; everyone sold all their worldy possessions, and gave the money to the church, all of it.

    2) "paid performers", just another show! Security I can understand, and agree with.

    3) Like most, I have attended these large Churches when invited by friends to attend Church with them. My take is this. If the pastor of that Church was really interested in teaching the word of God, really interested in seeing souls saved, then he would send out all of his people that were able, or felt the call to preach. They would not be under him, nor would their income be given to him. Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature". This can't be done when you are holding on to all the people you can get, just so you can be seen as something in your comunity.

    As for the Non-Denominational Churches, well, there is no such thing! The term itself is an oxymoron.
     
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