The Big Business Church
Thursday, March 20th, 2008 at
How exciting it is to go to church on Sunday morning and feel like you are at a mega-production conference with colorful lighting and a rock concert style band! Pulling into a parking lot, being warmly greeted immediately and guided to where I must trade my kids for a paiger (not that I ever drop my kids off to people I don’t know), then finding my way to a top spot in a coliseum style sanctuary.
The contemporary Christian music sort of picks me up and gets me excitedly anticipating the band to come shortly. And when the lighting goes crazy and the band comes out shouting I just know I am in for a treat! The crowd of church goers seems to agree with me and we all sing praise songs and sway, many with hands raised in the air. After the music is over a pastor comes out. He is like a super star, famous, and he can be seen on big TV screens throughout the church, too, so we can all take his sermon in by not only hearing his voice, but by seeing his expressions. It is a powerful and entertaining experience that feels good and makes me excited to come back to church the next week. I file out with my kids after a few encore numbers by the band and make my way to my car. It takes a bit of time to get out of the parking lot and I must bite back frustration but church was exciting, my adrenalin is coursing, and I feel good about it all – I have been entertained.
I admit to enjoying churches like these for their adrenalin kicking qualities. We have only gone to a few big production style churches but they are pretty much the same. Exciting and action packed.
friendly yet extremely impersonal.
Truthful yet un-convicting.
Big on attendants yet small on true Christians.
Large in Baptisms yet small in converts.
Though I did say I enjoy them I have trouble seeing their purpose as God’s church. Though I don’t think they are bad I don’t agree they should take the place of a personally ministered, family grounded church. It saddens me these days to see the huge churches popping up all over the place. What happened to personal ministry? What happened to Jesus-like teachings? One on one sermons where people can ask questions, learn, grow, and hold each other, and their pastor accountable?
Why is it that so many mega churches are losing focus? Fame and numbers have replaced personal ministry. Fortune has replaced the true meaning of discipleship. Where are we going wrong? Why is this so hard to see for many of these once grounded pastors?
Now, I don’t agree with everything my small, community oriented church does. Sometimes they do things and I wonder, “where is God in this”; however, it is still a family, God driven church. Not a perfect church, mind you, but a church full of believers with hearts for God. A church where people visit and get sucked in by a feeling of family and love – not of excitement and adrenalin. Adrenalin is great when spiked but it leaves a feeling of exhaustion after it is depleted. I don’t want my Jesus high to leave me burned out.
“But we’ve got to get people coming to church!”
Like I said – it isn’t about the numbers in attendance. Just because a church has 6000 people coming each week doesn’t mean they have a better conversion rate.
Jesus is not for sale but that is just what these mega-churches appear to be doing – marketing Christianity. Most of the time it doesn’t start out this way. There is a pastor with big ideas and a whole future in front of him. He is excited to watch his church growing after many stumblings or heart breaking failures. His sermons become electric and overnight his congregation starts to flood out the door.
What do they do now? The money is pouring in – there is enough for a down payment on a remodel – then an addition – then a new building. What once was an awesome sermon and family atmosphere bringing people in has turned into a coliseum production – a big convention – an impersonal meeting.
What did Jesus do when the crowds were too large? He went outside. It even talks in the Bible about how Jesus had to get into a boat to preach because the shore was too crowded. He preached from that boat and thousands came to know Him as their lord! He didn’t have to buy them with huge, sidetracking fanfare. They came to hear him, not to be entertained.
I don’t imagine that it was ever God’s intention that we treat His church as a business. There is supposed to be this marriage between Christ and His church but that can’t happen when the church is no longer a body of believers but a business venture where ‘entertaining Christianity’ is the product for sale.
My husband plays the drums in our church band. I am not against different forms of worship and music in churches when it’s primary function is to lift God up. It is when it turns into a circus of selfish desire that I become wary.
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