Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Mega Question

Okay, to set this up, I've had a lot on my mind of late regarding church structure and organization. Some of this is natural; I'm now an elder and need to concern myself with such things more than I did as a layperson. Some of this is more to do, though, with the general antipathy with which many Evangelicals hold the modern megachurch.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'll define a megachurch as one that draws more than 1,000 people to services on a given Sunday, although I know that other definitions exist. It'll even suffice to say "a really big church" compared to the more "average" Christian church of less than 200 attendees. (I'm hedging because I can't recall the actual average church size nowadays, but I *believe* it's actually less than 100. But don't quote me.)

Before I state my actual view on the megachurch phenomenon, I'm interested in yours. Therefore, if you would be so kind, please let me know in the comments (or via email) what you think about megachurches. Are they generally speaking a good thing or a bad thing? What does the Bible say, if anything, about the size/structure of a Willow Creek, a Saddleback or a Eagle Brook? What is the Biblically-proscribed model for churches? Let's get even more basic: what is the purpose of the church? And how can size/structure help/hinder that purpose?

I'm hoping this can be a fun discussion, because frankly I've seen this discussion be not so much fun lately. But either way, I'm interested in how this turns out.

God bless!
Ron

4 comments:

Not Crunchy said...

Here's my non-evangelical off-the-cuff feeling on mega-churches: I look at them, and see a shallow representation of Christianity meant to appeal to Sunday Christians. I've read about the great work that they do with small groups, particularly Rick Warren's method, and have a brother-in-law who gets a lot out of his mega-church. But I've also seen first-hand the way that they arm-twist and brainwash when it comes to "giving-til-it-hurts" (giving money, that is). It is no accident that I do not have any friends who attend mega-churches, so this is something that just culturally doesn't appeal to me. (that said, I live in Berkeley, CA - not exactly a hotbed of mega-churches! but you would be surprised how many churches there are here) But that does not mean that it is an invalid model of Christianity just because I don't like it! I feel like I do not have enough information to make an objective assessment. My subjective assessment though: Yuk.

R. Stewart said...

To be honest, I think many Christians of my general philosophy have the same reaction.

Thanks for the input. It'll be interesting to see where I go with this:)

Jim Baxter said...

The Old World method of measuring human value was,
and still is, by the group. Whether tribe, clan,
city-state, color, ethnic, or gender, the Old
World, ancient and modern, measures by the plural
unit. Individuals had and have no value of them-
selves but only as they were and are part of a
collective.

When Y'shua Jesus died on the cross, the veil of
the Temple at the Holy of Holies parted from the
top down. The individual believer in the congrega-
tion had, for the first time, a face-to-face, one-
on-one relation with his Creator. The Creator,
Himself, had validated each individual for the
first time.Thus, the Individual became the corner-
stone for later human value measuring systems:
socio-political, philosophical, religious, educa-
tional, economic, etc., henceforth and forever.
Western Civilization, America, English Law, civil
Rights, the 'democratic' process, etc., all sprang
from that single event. (Greco-Roman 'democracies'
were 95% slave throughout their entire histories.)
Biblical principles are still today the foundation
under Western Civilization and the American way of
life.

Many social systems attempt to borrow ideas of
"democracy" without the basic premise in The Indi-
vidual. Such a system is only superficially and
temporarily 'democratic.' The cornerstone of the
democratic process is The Individual and the
cornerstone of the value of The Individual is
Y'shua Jesus! It is not possible to have one with-
out the other. There is only One Source - there is
no other.

It is additionally interesting to note that all
value measuring systems are based on the single
definitive unit of the system. Ex: Number, Time,
Distance, Weight, Heat, Money, Angle, Volume, etc.

Only humanism makes the abusive error of measuring
human value by the plural unit and attempts to
build social structures, relations, and institu-
tions thereon. Such man-made systems can only be
abusive and oppressive because in reality there
are only individual persons. Groups or collectives
are merely convenient verbalizations about indi-
viduals. They are not reality.

I have yet to see a 'group.' All I have ever seen
are individuals.Have you ever seen a group - or is
it a verbal convenience? Reality is only in the
individual person. And, such a validation never
derived from a human source without the initiative
of the Creator. (The French Rationalists of the
18th Century favored the fruit - but rejected the
branch, tree, and root.)

Today, wherever Y'shua Jesus is rejected, the
group or collective is still the basic way of
measuring human value - or human non-value.

We thank the Lord God for revealing His validation
of each individual person. We thank Him for creat-
ing each person uniquely, in His image, and call-
ing each one to a courageous ascension by Y'shua
Jesus, who said, "I AM the Way..."

Praise the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and
His Son of Man, Y'shua Jesus.

Reference: Exodus 25:30,40 Hebrews 9 Matthew 27:51
Mark 15:38 Luke 23:45 KJV

semper fidelis
Jim Baxter
Sgt. USMC
WWII & Korean War

Catez said...

I don't have strong feelings either way. I think it comes down to how people love each other within a church, whatever the size. Meeting in small groups is a good idea for a very big church. I think small groups can function in the same ways a very small church does.