Megachurch files for bankruptcy

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Jedi Knight, Oct 18, 2010.

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  1. Jedi Knight

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  2. freeatlast

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    This is a shame. This is all about greed and mismanagement. They need to sell off everything, all buildings, property, and holdings, to pay off the creditors and if that does not cover everything then the members need to dip into their own pockets to cover the rest. At least they could show even though they were irresponsible in handling money they are honorable in paying their debts.
     
  3. Joseph M. Smith

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    It is often said that the hardest money to raise is money to pay a debt. That must be extra true when the circumstances include leadership disputes and so much excess. I wonder what motivation the members would find to dig deep ... and suspect a good many will walk away. Or maybe already have.

    I also find myself wondering how many other megachurches will find themselves in the same condition eventually. The superstructure is very expensive to support. Here in the Washington area there is a church with 19000 members whose pastor just died. She had taken over from her husband when he passed away. Two of their sons died early, and now the third son will be taking over this church. Lots of issues about family domination here, but, on the human level, it seems to have worked. But can he carry this weight? And, given the pattern of early deaths with his father and his brothers, what happens if he dies?

    Personally I could not be a part of a megachurch.
     
  4. Crabtownboy

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    I could not be part of a megachurch either.

    I may be wrong, but I believe that most megachurches are built around a charismatic individual and when that individual is no longer around, for whatever reason, the church is in very deep trouble.
     
  5. rbell

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    I don't think this has to be the case...but I think in most cases it is.

    I think it's much easier to build a megachurch around one person than around the ministry.

    In other words, it's a lot more work to make it not be about one personality.
     
  6. glfredrick

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    You are indeed wrong...

    What you and others are saying is that you would not have been a part of God's church in Jerusalem or Antioch. You would not be a part of a church that added 3000 members on day one, and later added 5000 members, plus those who were "being added daily." You would also have had a huge issue with Moses and Israel, which numbered into the millions.

    While I understand the sentiment against mega-churches, those sentiments are not driven from the Bible, but rather from very human fears about the capacity to lead that many people. They are also driven from an incorrect reading of the early chapters of Acts, where a "prescription" is taken from what is actually a "descriptive" set of passages. The "prescription" is often said to mean that the church must be small to be effective and/or effectively minister to her people. But that is not true. The church at Jerusalem, in conservative figures, probably ran to 15,000 people. The church in Antioch was probably over 25,000! Yes, they met in homes. That is the "description." That is because there was no other venue except the Temple, but a careful reading indicates that they met there as well. The "prescription" is then that any large gathering should be broken down into more intimate settings where people can minister the gospel to each other on a daily basis. This is indeed what most successful mega-churches are doing, and what a ton of small churches are trying (largely unsuccessfully) to copy.


    A couple of questions for the small church folks...

    1. God's mandate is clear. We are to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. Are you capable of doing that? Or, do you need to partner with others to accomplish that task? Are you partnering? Are you sending?

    2. God's mandate is clear. We are to elect a multitude of servants to watch over the flock so a plurality of elders (pastors) can lead in the service of the Word. Are you doing that? Can you?

    3. God's mandate is clear. We are to provide service to widows and orphans, and to assist those who need help in other ways, including older women teaching the younger, older men training the younger, and all together reaching out into the community in the name of Jesus Christ (recall Him sending 70 disciples out two-by-two!). Can you do that or will you run out of people long before you get to that task?

    I could ask a number of other questions, but the first three get to some of the main issues found in Scripture regarding the size of a church and the tasks God has called a local church to perform.

    We do not get to "spiritualize" those tasks (as is often the case in small churches!). We do not get to say, "We have a great heart and would do this if we could." God tells us to spread His name and His gospel into all the world, starting in our own back yards, then get on with the rest of the tasks He has set before us. Truth be told, we cannot do a single one of His commands if we do not have a population base large enough to accomplish those tasks!

    So, what again was your argument for small churches? Simply that a few charismatic leaders of mega-churches have done some things that you do not care for? I'll lay odds that tons of small church pastors have done likewise (I've known many!) but they just go away after ruining a congregation, for they do not have the force to make media waves... :tonofbricks:
     
  7. Eric B

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    You don't need to have large [permanent, fixed] congregations to do those things you mentioned. The Church was the Church; the one spiritual body of Christ. When it was growing, then you had gatherings of thousands. But that does not "prescribe" or whatever, that you have to keep the individual congregations that size, --and then have to build bigger buildings, have a bigger "organization" and pay more "staff", and then, new gimmicks (entertainment, etc) based on "marrketing" strategies must be employed to maintain it and grow (like any other business).

    All of this is where the problems start, where it becomes about greed, power, focused on a personality instead of Christ, worship becomes shallow, etc., and then, when things change (the person leaves or dies), it all unravels.
     
  8. webdog

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    Why should the members have to pay for the ignorance and ineptness of church leadership? They entrusted the leadership with their money. They were not irresponsible, the leadership was!
     
  9. annsni

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    This makes me so ever grateful for a church leadership that does not believe in debt. Of course this means that we need to tighten the belt buckle just like everyone else when finances get low and learn to go without but that's OK. What a blessing it is to not have the added weight of debt over our heads though!
     
  10. glfredrick

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    This! Is part of the answer. The Bible also has some poignant things to say about debt that we tend to ignore.
     
  11. FundyPat

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    When you preach a false gospel, this is a the result.
     
  12. freeatlast

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    My friend there are always those deadbeats that want to be part of the church while it is going well and deny responsibility when it falls apart. If they are members they are responsible. They took part in all that was spent and now need to step to the plate.
     
  13. billwald

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    Glfredrick prefers big church. Does glfredrick also prefer big business and big government?
     
  14. RAdam

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    Do you think the church at Jerusalem financed a big new fancy building? Do you think the leadership at this church made hefty salaries? Do you really think they were a megachurch like we see today?

    It's not the size that is the problem with a megachurch. I venture the guess that we'd all like to see the church building filled with people. The problem with modern megachurches is that they are built on something other than the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether the foundation be a charismatic personality or entertainment or whatever.

    Here's what Paul said:

    "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall me made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is."

    Fire will not destroy the gold, silver, and precious stones. But fire devours wood, hay, and stubble. If a man builds using the gospel of Christ and the building is built upon that foundation rather than a personality or entertainment or some fad, then it will stand. But, if he uses something else, it will surely be exposed and fall in due time.
     
  15. glfredrick

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    It is not that I "prefer" big church... I've been in "small" church (<30) as both member and pastor. I've been in medium-size church (<500) as both member and pastor.

    I've been in mega-church (>2000) as both member and pastor. I find that big church does the work mandated to us by the Lord in better and more complete ways than small church. I also find "big church" in the Bible... Both in the people of Israel gathered at the temple (numbers ran into the millions) and in the expression of the earliest Christian church in Acts.

    I also note that "big church" is necessarily "small church" in that big church needs to have a plurality of leaders (the biblical position) to serve people in a way that makes sense. One man, alone, standing in his giant pulpit cannot minister to tens of thousands, but hundreds of pastors, deacons, and ministering members under his leadership can!

    Big buildings? Whatever... Many big churches don't even have their own buildings -- some do -- some are more splashy than others. Many ancient cathedrals still stand in honor of God. Big isn't new. Spendy isn't new either. Could the funds be better used for mission work? Yup. I'm not a fan of spendy big campuses, and in fact the mega church where I hold my membership currently is re-purposing older church buildings that others have abandoned for far less than it would cost to build a new structure of similar scope.

    Debt? I've already addressed that. God is against it... Nuff said.

    What about effectiveness of a church? I "know" how faithful it sounds to talk about how one's heart is in the right place, even though nothing of any consequence is happening in a church. Been there, done that, have the t-shirts to prove it... Why are 50% of all Baptist churches in America baptizing one or zero people each year? Why are most of all Baptist churches in America under 80 people? Some, definitely, are land-locked -- that is all the people they have to reach -- but many others are simply no longer living!

    Let's talk a bit about the "big church" where I hold my membership. 10 years ago it was a non-church. It did not exist. It was a vision in the heart of one man, who I worked along side as we both went through NAMB church planting training. He laid out his vision before the class, and everyone laughed. No way would it be possible to go to "that" part of Louisville (the arts and croissant section, were gayness is prized, weirdness is a family value, and every "hipster" perversion under the sun is recognized) and build a viable congregation. The "bohemian" population of that area had no money, lived by scrounging their needs from dumpsters, and spent any free money on tats and body jewelry. I went my way to start a semi-traditional Baptist church, and he went his way to start what would turn out to be a mega-church.

    They launched in the second floor of an art gallery with a handful -- "small church" -- and they never intended to get "big." Originally, they strived to be as radical as their perception of the early Acts church. Small, trendy, always seeking, never finding... They named the church Sojourn for that reason. They regularly ran off new people attempting to join... Then, God broke their hearts... He made it clear that His desire was for all people to hear the gospel and respond -- as many as He would send their way. They figured out how to start handling the people and prayed that God would show them the way. He did -- and everything is based on Scripture instead of tradition...

    We are now growing at a fantastic pace. We're currently at 2400 on an average Sunday, with services on 3 campuses (all old buildings re-purposed), and hosting 6 services. Soon to come is another campus across the river. One complete campus was given to us (value 3.1 million -- deeded over, no questions asked, "just let this church be used for God's service again..."). Another building was just purchased so we can fit more. It is an old Catholic Cathedral (paid for in full by a member $501,000). Our existing building is an old abandoned 3 story elementary school, which is also paid for. We have $300,000 in seed money given us for the new start across the river ("Just, Please!, Bring a new church into our area that can re-vitalize the people and the neighborhood like you have in Louisville!). We had 37 babies and parents dedicated 2 weeks ago. We baptize once a month, last month 12 at one campus, others at the other places.

    All of our members are involved in community groups which have pastoral leaders (husband and wife teams, but the husband is the leader), where groups of 8-20 gather on a weekly basis for ministry and pastoral care. All the community group leaders are under the guidance of area coordinators, who will have from 5-10 leaders under them. They are in turn guided by pastors and elders in the church, who oversee their training and involvement. All of this is under the guidance of that same pastor who laid out the impossible vision 10 years ago.

    So, what are we? Small church? Medium church? Big church? We've been all three and are all three at the same time!

    Who should we turn away when they come seeking a church that both preaches and lives the gospel in order to stay small?

    Yes, I'm in a "big church." I love it. I'm seeing our members write the literature and lessons that we teach our children. I'm seeing us provide health fairs for free for the depressed community where our campuses reside (we served over 2400 people this year with free medical exams, free eye care, free dental, and free counseling!). Our talented musicians write and arrange our music and cut the CDs that allow us to share that with others. Our counseling department features "biblical" counseling and sees hundreds of people with a myriad of life issues, from drug and alcohol dependency, to marriage, to mental illness, to sexual depravity and other addictions. We just hosted a fall festival where 1800 locals in one of the poorest and most crime-ridden parts of the city came out to be a part of community, eat, and hear the good news. We have over 600 workers at that festival!

    I've found, simply, that "healthy" things grow. And, conversely, that sick things wither away and die...

    Now, were we talking about my "preferences"? :tonofbricks:
     
  16. webdog

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    I disagree, and feel this argument would not hold up in any court of law.
     
  17. freeatlast

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    I know you do not understand. This is about Christ, not about man's law. For a Christian, paying his debts is equal to following the Lord. The lost do not understand this, but it is God's will.
    Psalm 37:21
     
  18. webdog

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    You say I do not understand...then say the lost do not understand. Are you questioning my salvation?

    When I give to the church I am expecting the church to be wise in how they use the funds for God. If someone steals from it or misuses them it is on them, not me. You have no clue by throwing "it's about Christ" around. Even in the OT law there were provisions for those who were unable to repay their debts, not to mention everyone's debt was wiped clear every 7 years regardless...but continue to cherry pick your verses out of context to prove your false points.
     
    #18 webdog, Oct 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2010
  19. preachinjesus

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    I was sad to hear of the Crystal Cathedral's bankruptcy. This seems to be a cash flow issue more than anything else. With the departure of Robert Schuller's son and the elevation of his daughter to the senior pastor position there has been a widespread departure of attenders.

    I can't imagine the facilities overhead that they have to carry from year to year. This isn't meant to throw rocks a people who live in glass houses, ;) but it seems given his particular ministry model it is less about challenging people to life change and more about discovering their personal change within. Perhaps if they were to evaluate their growth patterns over the past several years they would see much of their current attenders are carry overs from the past generations.

    That said there is a lot of poor observations about mega-churches in this thread. As a pastor at what I guess would be a mega-church there are some advantages to the model. Of course there are also some drawbacks. I believe it is another model that is perfectly legitimate for growing the Kingdom and glorifying God.

    Not all mega-churches are built around personality. In fact many are large communities of actively growing, biblically based, vibrant followers of Christ who have an authentic expression of fellowship.
     
  20. billwald

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    This "church" is a family business of the Schuller family. (sounds like) The Schuller family is stiffing their creditors.
     
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