I am amazed at the level of attacks that are directed at our nation’s Christian megachurches. Ironically, the churches that are having the largest growth in our land are our nation’s megachurches. America’s megachurches are rapidly growing. Yet surprisingly, few of these churches appeals to the ranks of traditional theologians and religious scholars of our land. However; these churches are experiencing incredible growth.
We will observe the megachurch’s dynamics that seems to draw criticism from those who are accustomed to worshipping in traditional settings and from those who are used to worshipping in smaller church settings. The Megachurch Movement in America has garnered many opponents. Big Box Religion has had it’s share of critics. The average church in America has a normal attendance of about 60 people each week, but some of the megachurches in our country are now seeing between 20,000 to 30,000 people each week. This type of growth has gained the megachurch movement in our nation a growing list of detractors. These detractors state that these churches focus on attendance by preaching compromising messages, by dumbing down their flocks, and focusing on money too much.
I am a product of a megachurch and I will admit that this scale of ministry has many challenges. The sheer size of these churches makes it virtually impossible for the pastor to know the lion’s share of his membership personally. That is one of the drawbacks to tremendous growth in a church. However, I don’t agree that every megachurch in our land has achieved it’s rapid growth through the preaching of “cotton candy”. Many of the megachurches of our land are churches that adhere to and promote adherence to the Word of God. Should we attack rapid growth in a church? If the scriptures declare that God wants his house to be full, Why are our religious scholars, theologians, and even some of our nation’s religious leaders attacking those who are successfully fulfilling their kingdom mandates? Rapid growth in a church can sometimes come from a congregation that is so excited about the Word of God that they are inviting everyone that they know or meet to their churches. Most of the megachurches in America have many successful outreach programs. Many of these churches use many out of the box outreach programs that seem to nettle those who belong to the traditional church world. Church as usual has achieved some of the adverse growth in the traditional churches of our land.
I am highly cognizant that there are some megachurches that are preaching and teaching questionable things, yet I don’t believe that just because a church is experiencing growth that somehow that church is not holding up the standard of Christianity. Could the competive jealousies of some pastors who pastor smaller churches lead to some of the wild yet unproven accusations that every megachurch seems to have? You know the ones like to join that church you need to first submit a copy of your W-2, or the great they only care about your money and you are just a number at that church. The beauty and barber shops of our land are all full of individuals who know what’s wrong at the megachurch down the street or across town. Many of the preachers of our land hear these wild allegations and know them not to be true, but just can’t seem to muster the strength to defend that brother’s church down the street, that is experiencing rapid growth. God has not called every church to be a megachurch, yet that is not a reason for the ranks of the church world to attack the megachurches of our land.
There are enough people who are lost in sin to fill up most of the churches of our land. It’s true that a megachurch pastor probably can’t eat Sunday dinner with his parishoners like many other pastors can. Should this make them the object of scorn? A megachurch’s pastor deals with an onslaught of problems and stress on a weekly basis. Their kids are subject to scorn. Their spouses are expected to live up to the often unreal expectations of the masses. They soon find out that their job is not all peaches and cream by the sheer barrage of lies that are told on them by not only the world, but also those of the church.
There are some traditional churches that are experiencing rapid growth. Our surburban areas seem to attract many traditional churches who then experience rapid church growth. Being the first church in a rapidly growing surburban area, will sometimes lead to rapid church growth. I strongly believe that most of our nation’s newest megachurches are coming from either pentecostal settings or from our nation’s African American Churches. The Barna Report, a survey done by a popular Christian customer research firm, will bear this assumption out. Each of these two types of churches are attacked for being too emotional. Is their rapid growth attributed to their lack of three points and a poem sermons? What modes and methods can we learn from these churches? The megachurch pastor will be a target for those who claim that it is their mission to battle apostasy.
Why are the pastors of megachurches under so much attack? I would submit with their larger budgets, larger choirs, larger parking lots, and larger church offices there are often individuals who can’t understand the sheer level of attack that they are under. Although their churches take up large amounts of money, they also have to pay out huge amounts of money for adequate structures, staffs, and upkeep. Should we state that just because a church is growing that a church must be letting down the standard, or that a church is simply growing because they are only attracting those with itching ears? Our churches’ mission is to grow. God hasn’t promised us that every church will be a megachurch. There are thousands of pastors, who are great men, that are laboring in small churches everyday. Should we see these individuals as the only ones that have it right? Some of our nation’s megachurch pastors have it right also! If time is indeed winding up, and if the clarion call of the hour is Holiness or Hell, then why are so many in the American church world opposing the growth of some of the Christian megachurches in our land?
Pastor Stephen F. Smith
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