Mega-churches

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by colorado_cop, Apr 13, 2004.

  1. colorado_cop

    colorado_cop
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    Does anyone see anything inherently wrong with them? Aside from personal preference?
     
  2. LarryN

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    The commonly accepted definition of a mega-church is one which has over 2,000 in attendance on average. On that basis, I currently am a member of a mega-church.

    One of the common objections I've seen to large churches is that "you can't know everyone". To that I reply: "So?"

    When I belonged to a church of about 100, I knew more or less everyone reasonably well. Now that I belong to a church of 2,000+, I know (reasonably well) the same number or so.

    Some will also say that in a large church it's difficult to get involved in the ministries. I've never found that to be a problem- there are so many different areas of ministry, in fact, that it's simply impossible to get personally involved in each of them. The options are many, and a person chooses to get involved in those in which their individual spiritual gifts are best utilized.
     
  3. Jailminister

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    I have no problem with "mega-church". It just seems in order to have a "mega-church" that you must compromise. Now with that said, compromise also happens in small churches also.
     
  4. USN2Pulpit

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    The Acts 2 church may have been called officially a "megachurch!"
     
  5. LarryN

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    Excellent.

    From Acts 2:

    37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

    42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
     
  6. colorado_cop

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    Jail minister...what have you seen them compromise? Give me your honest opinion on this please.
     
  7. Frogman

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    What about after they were 'scattered abroad' and only the apostles were left in Jerusalem?

    Just a thought.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  8. Jeffrey H

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    I belonged to a "mega-church" and it was very conservative. There was never any compromise to water-down doctrine. In fact, it's firm stand on doctrinal fundamentals was it's strength.

    Small churches sometimes remain small because of water-downed doctrine and weak teaching. I now belong to a "small" church and I've witnessed the temptation to dumb-down in order to attract more visitors.

    We can't make generalized statements about church size.
     
  9. Jailminister

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    Colorado Cop, I am taliking about "megas" like Crystal Cathedral, Saddleback, Church on the Rock, Cornerstone Church of San Antoino(John Haggee).
    What I see is a pulling away of basic biblical doctrine, not much of a call to holy living, standards, etc.

    But as I said I see this in some small churches also.
     
  10. colorado_cop

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    I have never been to most of those churches, but to Saddleback I have. I was never more impressed with a congregation and pastor. They were enthusiastic during worship, and the pastor preached with authority and from the Book.

    What have you experienced there? Just wondering. I now attend a church with over 6,000 in attendance. Before I started attending there, some of the staunch Baptists at the church I did attend said, "You'll never hear the word preached there," as if it's not Baptist then it's wrong. They couldn't have been more wrong.

    Oh, and about Hagee, each time I listen to him on TV, he is very rigid in his teaching of the Bible. A very fanatical defender of it.

    Am I completely missing the boat here? Please advise.
     
  11. superdave

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    Our Church is striving to be a mega church! Here's Why

    The Highlighted words are the greek word megos

    We are striving to have Mega Power for preaching the Word, Mega Grace towards each other and towards the church in giving, and Mega Fear of God.


    I tend to agree with much in the above posts. As the great philosopher Yoda once said "Size Matters Not, Judge me by my size do you? And where you should not!" I have seen problems in many sizes of churches. Even having a more progressive purpose driven style of ministry doesn't neccessarily mean compromise, our church is very Word centered, and very conservative, but is very much organized like a mega church. Purpose driven philosophy, small group ministries, etc.

    As long as the Word is being preached without shame, and there is no erosion of doctrine, and Biblical principles govern ministry decisions rather than pure pragmatism, much of the mega-church philosophy can be used to make your church more goal oriented and efficient. Much effort is spent on peripheral issues in many churches that does not further the goal of Jesus' ministry, or the call to the Great Commission.
     
  12. Bro Tony

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    Superdave,

    What a great post. I am going next week to preach revival services in a small church in Southern Arizona. I am preaching on God's standards for His people. Would you mind if I used your outline concerning the Lord's desire for His church?

    Bro Tony
     
  13. Jailminister

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    Here is a little something to ponder about Rick Warren:
    If numbers were the only standard of success, The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren would stand as one of the greatest books of our time. Having sold over one million copies in 20 different languages, it was selected as one of the “100 Christian Books that Changed the 20th Century.” Its supporters include men like W. A. Criswell, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Adrian Rogers, and Jack Hayford. And the church that serves as its paradigm, Saddleback Church of Southern California, has grown from the house where it started (in 1980) to a weekly attendance of 16,000.

    Yet, numbers are not the only measure of success—in fact, they’re not the standard at all. Rather, God teaches that His standard is faithfulness to His Word. After all, 1 Timothy 3:15 says that the purpose of the church is to be “the pillar and support of the truth.” And 2 Timothy 2:15 says that the purpose of the pastor is to accurately handle “the word of truth.” It is “the knowledge of the truth” that leads to godliness (Titus 1:1), and it is “obedience to the truth” that purifies the soul (1 Pet. 1:22). Thus, “as fellow workers of the truth” (1 John 3:18), pastors should seek to minister “for the sake of the truth” (2 John 2), in order that the people in their congregations might be those “who walk in truth” (2 John 4). The biblical standard of success is never numbers, but rather the accurate proclamation of God’s truth (2 Tim. 2:15; James 3:1). With this in mind, Warren’s seeker-sensitive model reveals several weaknesses.

    Entertainment v. Exposition

    A primary weakness in Warren’s approach is that he emphasizes the pastor’s ability to entertain over the pastor’s responsibility to speak the truth. On p. 231, Warren argues:

    I’ve heard pastors proudly say, ‘We’re not here to entertain.’ Obviously they’re doing a good job at it. A Gallup poll a few years ago stated that, according to the unchurched, the church is the most boring place to be. . . . To the unchurched, dull preaching is unforgivable. Truth poorly delivered is ignored. On the other hand, the unchurched will listen to absolute foolishness if it is interesting.

    While homiletics is certainly an important part of preaching, it is not the most important part. For Warren, the presentation seems to be more important than the truth being presented. The Apostle Paul’s priorities, however, were just the opposite—how he preached was not nearly as important as what he preached:

    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Cor. 1:17)

    And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (2 Cor. 2:1-5)

    In light of his desire for relevance, Warren’s preaching is naturally determined more by His audience than by the Scripture. On p. 227 he says:

    One reason sermon study is so difficult for many pastors is because they ask the wrong question. Instead of asking, “What shall I preach on this Sunday?” they should be asking, “To whom will I be preaching?” Simply thinking through the needs of the audience will help determine God’s will for the message. . . . People’s immediate needs are a key to where God would have you begin speaking on that particular occasion.

    Of course, Warren is referring to "felt needs" - people's own perception of their needs, which translates into what they want. Again, when compared to Paul, Warren’s method comes up short. Instead of beginning with his audience, simply telling them what they wanted to hear, Paul started with the truth he knew his audience needed (even if they did not want to hear it). He says:

    For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10-12).

    In contrast, the seeker-sensitive model appears to put a higher priority on pleasing the audience than on honoring the Lord. It is no wonder, then, that Warren can say: “Being seeker sensitive in our worship is a biblical command” (p. 243) and “Keep your pastoral prayers short in your seeker services. . . . The unchurched can’t handle long prayers; their minds wander or they fall asleep.” Again, the question remains, should unbelievers determine what we do in the church, or should Scripture determine what we do? Warren’s answer seems to be unbelievers (see p. 189).

    Sensitivity v. Sovereignty

    Because of its seeker-sensitive approach, Warren’s model encourages easy-believism whereas Scripture emphasizes sin, repentance, and self-denial. On pp. 303-305, Warren works through practical steps for persuading unbelievers to make a commitment for Christ. In fact, on p. 219, he states, “It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart . . . . The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.” At least two problems immediately arise with Warren’s model.

    First, Warren dilutes the gospel in order to make it easier to believe. Stephen Lewis, in reviewing The Purpose Driven Church says this:

    Not once does The Purpose Driven Church give a clear gospel message. In asking what people want (rather than what the Bible says they need) has Warren created followers or multitudes based upon their desires or perceived needs? Ironically, in John chapter 6, Jesus rebuked the very people He had just fed, because they only followed Him in search of more bread to satisfy their immediate hunger. Jesus met people’s needs as a way of revealing and/or authenticating Himself before men. Any model purposing to create followers based upon fulfilling perceived needs risks making this into an end in itself. Again, where does The Purpose-Driven Church give people what they really need, the gospel of grace?” (CTSJ 6/2 April 2000, 56)

    Second, Warren denies the sovereignty of God in salvation. By assuming that he can lead anyone to Christ through felt-needs, Warren directly contradicts the biblical doctrine of election. After all, Scripture makes it clear that only those whom God calls will repent (Matt. 11:27; John 6:65; Rom. 9:18-24; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-11; 1 Peter 1:1-2). Warren’s seeker-sensitive approach denies the power of the Holy Spirit to use God’s truth, no matter how it is presented, to penetrate the heart and bring spiritual life.

    Other Theological Considerations

    In his Shepherds' Conference seminar “Evaluating the Church Growth Movement,” Rick Holland identifies several other theological problems with Warren’s seeker-sensitive model.

    Warren assumes that the primary purpose of Sunday morning church services is to reach out to unbelievers (see p. 243). In the New Testament, however, the reason the church gathers is for worship and equipping (Eph. 4:11-16; Acts 2:37-47). Evangelism is to primarily take place in the believer’s life context (“as you go”—Matt. 28:18-20) rather than being the main focus of the Sunday worship service.
    Warren assumes that unbelievers are “seeking,” yet Scripture says, “There is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11; Ps. 14:1-3).
    Warren assumes that the gospel can be made inoffensive to unbelievers if presented correctly. Yet, Scripture teaches that the gospel is, by its very nature, offensive to those who hate God (1 Cor. 1:18, 21, 23, 25; 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:7-8).
    Warren assumes that the style of music a church uses is one of its most important keys to reaching the culture (see pp. 280-281). Interestingly, the New Testament is silent regarding this “critical” element of church growth.
    Warren assumes that large numbers indicate true success. He even says, “Never criticize any method that God is blessing” (p. 156) and interprets the “blessing” as that which draws a crowd. But what about the prophet Jeremiah’s ministry? He faithfully proclaimed the truth his entire life and yet saw no fruit. According to Warren’s model, Jeremiah was a failure.
    Final Assessment

    While Warren’s book does offer some practical tips for making a church larger, it fails to expound the foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical. Because it overemphasizes the felt needs of unbelievers and de-emphasizes the priority of clear biblical teaching, The Purpose-Driven Church seems to be driven by the wrong purpose—namely, a man-centered desire for acceptance and influence rather than a God-centered affinity for truth.

    In this vein, the words of Al Mohler are very appropriate:

    One of the fundamental issues of misunderstanding that leads to corrupt churchmanship in our generation is the failure to distinguish between a crowd and a church. The failure to distinguish between a crowd and a church is . . . to misunderstand everything about preaching, everything about ministry, everything about our task. If we think our business is to build a crowd, frankly any of us can do it. There’s a way to bring and draw and attract a crowd. . . . Let us never mistake a crowd for a church [or] think our business is to draw a crowd.

    Now on John Haggee he teaches that the Jews do not have to receive Jesus to be saved!
    He also has a Daughter that Pastors a church in Colorado. Did she get that authority from him? You see big is not always best.
     
  14. donnA

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    For some reason people think church growth means compromise. They just can't seem to beleive anyone but themselves and possibly their church have faith in Jesus. They can not beleive God builds the little churches and the big churches, that God has a plan and a purpose.

    Growth = compromise
    Acts 2 growth = compromise???
     
  15. Frogman

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    Although I really don't have any idea what I am talking about, really :confused: I suspect the first mental vision the regular (small) church member receives when reading or hearing 'mega-churches' is something like what is pawned on TBN and other sources.

    INHO, we are able to know what is taught, believed and practiced only by visiting these places, then we are able to determine by comparison to scripture whether that particular 'mega' body is scriptural or not.

    In many South American countries, people line up along the walls and outside of the 'church' building to hear the gospel preached. In many of these places they are not openly persecuted, but benefits, jobs, etc. just never seem to come their way.

    Nevertheless, they are thirsting for the word of God. These, witnessing folks being saved and baptized and more coming until they swell into the streets trying to hear the gospel, would be an example of Acts 4, I think.

    Thanks for posting from that passage of scripture; It is one of my favorites.

    God Bless
    Bro. Dallas [​IMG]
     
  16. colorado_cop

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    Jail,

    You are right on bringing up the scripture where Paul absolutely says its the message, not the presentation.

    So yes, the first thing any pastor must do is make the content is sound.

    However, if a preacher leaves it at that, the vast majority of the lost will want nothing to do with church. I tried and tried and tried inviting my co-workers and acquaintances to church over the years. THey would always come, and then not want to come back because it was "boring". That's a fact of life, of the human nature. I found no fault in Mr. Warren stating if we don't make church interesting, or if I could put words in his mouth, "culturally relevant" (again, as long as the doctrine is sound) then the lost will follow something else that is interesting and gripping. It is no wonder that churches such as Saddleback, that one in Chicago (I forget its name) New Life in the Springs (15,000 in attendance), and the church we currently, are growing, and that people are coming to know Christ in droves.

    It's also no wonder that SOME (not all) but SOME small churches are small and will stay small because the pastor and/or congregation just don't get it. They don't get that one can be unashamed and bold about the gospel yet also be relevant to people.

    Concerning determining who your audience is, you're not going to preach the same sermon or bring the same lesson to a women's conference as you will to a conference emphasizing overcoming, say, sexual sin.

    I find absolutely no fault in anything you quoted Mr. Warren as saying as long as his basis is always the Word of God.
     
  17. superdave

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    Sure Bro Tony,
    Since its not mine I would be happy to have you use it. My pastor preached it last week, and I had talked to him after a recent Mission trip to India where he heard the "Mega-Church" concept from another pastor who was with him. A pastor of another very Mega church that has not compromised its message to grow.

    I have often wondered why the unchurched and unsaved feel comfortable in our church. Because, while they are welcomed by the format and the people, they are not getting their ears tickled, they are hearing the truth. But they still come, and learn and many have accepted Christ. The Spirit is creating a Mega Church, its not a man, a method, or a mindset.

    One key phrase from the book of Acts is really the key to our church's philosophy, the rough paraphrase is this. The Word of God increased, and the number of Disciples multiplied
     
  18. Frogman

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    In the end, this will depend on what is really held as truth regarding the means, method and extent of the salvation of the lost.

    Isn't that right?

    Bro. Dallas
     
  19. blackbird

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    About the only gripe I have with Mega is----sometimes the mega pastors will look down on the smaller ones and tendency to say---"Ya'll ain't doin' nothin'!"

    If you're a Mega pastor and you run 2000 in SS and ya'll baptize 350 last year but I only Baptized 12 and I run 125 in SS----don't you look down your long "snout" at me and tell me I ain't doin' nothin'---just because I ain't baptized near as many as you did!
     
  20. Bro Tony

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    Thanks Superdave and thank your pastor and he can thank the one he heard it from.

    Now I would share my opinion, for what it is worth. It is not the size of the church that matters. It is whether the Word is uncompromisingly proclaimed and the people are following the Lord. There is a place in the work of God's Kingdom for churches of all sizes. There is just not a place for people who have little size faith. If you are in a church that is running a few and you are walking in faith, then you are mega in the Kingdom. And if you are in a church that runs thousands and you are merely following a man, or human philosophy and not walking in faith than you are mini.

    It is not the size of the church, but the power of God working in His people that make a great church.

    Bro Tony
     

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