Megachurches are growing, as are the heads that rule them

Posted: September 16, 2008 in Denominational Fun, IJS, Keep it real, Networking, On Your Wall, Snap, Crackle and POP Culture
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A recent story from Christian Today (no, the “-ity” is not missing) points something that is very telling about the megachurch these days, and proves the point to “The Writing on the Wall“.

Its headline: U.S. Megachurches growing – and fast. Well, yes and no. Here’s the summary of the story:

The continuous growth in the size of megachurches comes as no surprise as they have shown increasing numbers over the last eight years. But despite the bigger congregations, megachurches have not expanded their sanctuaries to accommodate the larger flocks.

Wall watchers, this is not due to a crippling fear of fire code restrictions, this is by design. Consider the newest home for the (COUGH… my beloved… COUGH) Dallas Cowboys. This is the NFL’s biggest brand in the sport’s oldest stadium. Just like a dirty old man on a mid-life crisis, it’s over time to get younger at that position. It has to go through this age-old custom because the demand is there for more people… who pay more money.

Churches don’t have this problem. Football teams don’t play doubleheaders, but choirs can sing in two services, or three, or four, or, well you get the idea. So while the NFL is advocating inferiority complexes across the league, megachurch pastors can play hard to get and love every minute of it.

For football games, it’s about more seats in one house and to see them filled. For churches, volunteers and the egos behind the curtain operating the thing, it’s about butts in seats as well, but just enough to turn folk away and fill another service.

They don’t all do this, mind you, but it’s nice to know that some of us are on to those who are – satellites (Seriously? Watching church on TV? Isn’t that TBN?), sister churches (I get to see my pastor live one out of every four to six weeks) and even splits (Oh, the youth pastor just got on my nerves).

Whatever the cause, big church these days seem to be about what looks good on TV, to the world and in the bank.

Trust me, if you see a church long enough on TV or hear all your friends talking about one, you too will wait for an 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. service to go by before you decide to grace God with your presence at 12:30 p.m.

You know, unless of course there is a football game, then you will get to prove my point all over again.

(Bricklaying shout out to Nina Berman for the great and harrowing photo)

  1. Ishmael Smith says:

    My local church is by no means a mega church, i am sure that all three of our Sunday services would fill the least attended service of one of these services.

    Our multiple services grew out of a need to 1) increase attendance, 2) provide service access for persons working shifts and 3) to create supporting communities for marginalized members.

    My pastor’s position was also spurred by an attempt to 1) teach and train his lay ministers as they developed by literally showing them the need for ministers to always be available, 2) to show them that it is not that people do NOT want to come to church, but often they are unable to, 3) the ministering needs of the church vary as there are divergent peoples in need of a common worship, 4) to expose his ministers to all and sundry who follow, and 4) to provide his lay ministers with as many opportunities as possible to “prove” their gift.

    I am sure that there were more motives on his part, some altruistic, some selfish, but the final word is that it proved beneficial for his congregation, and allowed like minded individuals to develop “family” and support amongst those like them.

    I also am in complete agreement with the premise that some keep these multiple services so that they can say that they offer these services and that they are always filled, which substantiates their claim to fame and feeds their ego…

    wow… not sure where i was going with all this… oh yeah to provide an alternative read on the subject.

    be blessed this day and be godly always,

    Ishmael Smith
    1 @ IEL Bahamas, always ole and transcendant

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