Mega-churches: Progression or Obsession? | INFJ Forum

Mega-churches: Progression or Obsession?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Altruistic Muse, May 17, 2011.

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  1. Altruistic Muse

    Altruistic Muse Community Member

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    I'm really interested to hear what you guys make of these large scale, crowd oriented churches. I go to Hillsong London, but I also go to a Catholic Church near me, to keep the balance. I've been at Hillsong for about 8 or 10 months now, and am just starting to get involved now (I haven't been every single Sunday by any means). I think it's absolutely awesome in terms of worship!! Seriously, it's fun, it's current, it's deeply spiritual and the passion in the worship leaders to communicate with God, and allow others to do so through the music, is clearly visible. Bible preaching is also spot on! Never had any issue with this! I think my main problem has been with the image side of things. It's good, I think, to make a church attractive, to young people particularly, by appealing to what they are interested in: music, perfomances... without losing any of the message. And I think Hillsong has done excellently with this. However, I would say, when they preach before the tithings, and suggest the Biblical 10%, I am left thinking, but where does that go? Do I really want to give that much money to see it go on a new guitar and a pair of shoes for the worship leader who's been all over Europe singing? Wouldn't my money be safer if I knew where it was going, and I put the same amount into charities of my choice? This is my main qualm about these kinds of churches. Otherwise, the size of the congregation is nicely countered by the "Connect Groups" which allow people all over town to meet up in small groups for Bible Studies and catch-up-with-friends sessions once a week, which I'm trying to get involved in just now :)

    Anyway, so enough of my opinion, what do you guys think? Do you think the popularity of these churches is actually going somewhere? Or do you think people are using them, as free meet ups, free gigs, getting carried away by the atmosphere and obsessed with the vibe, but not really connecting with Jesus?
     
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  2. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    When I was a church-goer I went to a really big "well funded" baptist church. I went because I really liked the sermons and found them insightful... but I felt lost among the crowd there.
    I remember being in that big church, with the gigantic worship megascreen up front, almost as big as a movie screen in a theatre.. and commenting to myself about all the music equipment and how expensive it all seemed. It was distracting to me.. I couldn't help but think: How much of the money spent on this stuff could have gone to community projects and people in need? A really small low-key country church is where I met most of my Christian friends, and it's where I actually felt like a part of a church family.. It felt more authentic than the big church.

    I don't think mega churches are biblical. I think they are for well-to do Christians who are more about the culture than the fellowship. There is one mega church out here that literally has it's own coffee shop inside. I am not even joking.
     
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  3. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    I respect that healthy churches grow, if things are going right and then your church should be gaining new members. However I dislike overly large churches, where focus is more on the worship song then the preaching and other ministries.

    So far my favorite church plan has been one that grows and splits. We have a church in here in Florida that once it hits 500 members it splits the church membership in half plants a new church in a location thats easy for the traveling members. When that church hits 500 they do it again.

    It keeps churches personal and keeps them expanding.
     
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  4. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    It seems that entertainment is always at the expense of reverence.

    The latter only needs a little shoe-box sized church and silence.
     
  5. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Forgive me, but I've never understood what going to church has to do with being Christian in the first place. These types of churches, from what I have read about them, seem even further from the goal. To me, going to a mega-church is like trying to fall in love by listening to Lady Gaga.

    I don't deny that they can be great socially or for their entertainment value (and if that is what you want, then perfect), but what kind of Christians would most of the people who attend be if one day they woke up and every church had vanished and every church group were unable to meet? If they had to be alone in their faith, would they still care?
     
  6. Trifoilum

    Trifoilum find wisdom, build hope.

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    This.

    I don't think it's bad personally, but...for certain people, it will be a distraction towards the actual message.

    And there's also a line when it stops being a messenger and starts being a seeker of money. :| When faith stops and megalomania begins..
     
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  7. Peppermint

    Peppermint Well-known member

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    I'm not religious, but I find the idea distasteful and tacky. I'm not really in favor of such things whatever is concerned.

    In my country, where Orthodox Christianity is prevalent churches are often older buildings, with byzantine architecture and decorated with admirable wall paintings - Frescos. It tends to really give them an atmosphere of "holiness".

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. the

    the Si master race.
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    When I used to go to churches that played that kind of music I always felt manipulated by the musicians. Also it seems like a big fake show. Singing those 7/11 songs about how I "will bow down to you LORD" (but no one is bowing), about "this place" "this heart" its all so general but it speaks to the crowds somehow. Singing fast worship songs first to get the crowd excited then switch to slow worship song to make me feel almost bad about myself then taking the offering right at this point when everyone is on that emotional high.

    To address your point of 10%, it seems to me that if I were to give my 10% to God, then what give me the right to control how this gift is spent? If someone gave me money but was constantly telling me how to spend it I would probably be offended.

    "Connect groups" never worked for me, it seems like I am being forced into a friendship with people I usually had nothing in common with besides church. The best "connect groups" I have been involved with were with people from a totally different denomination from whom I expected the worst but got the best.

    If anyones wondering I now go to Orthodox Churches like the ones Peppermint posted above.
     
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  9. Psalm

    Psalm Regular Poster

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    Here are my thoughts on this. I've never been to a mega-church and never will, as I disdain the thought of a "stadium church" versus a personal, involved group of friends focused on fellowship.
    The idea of a large gathering focusing on a personal subject such as faith depersonalizes the subject for me.
    However, I'm happy if a mega-church caters to the spiritual needs of people.

    To echo acd, I similarly think about waste versus purpose in a charitable or church effort. I laugh when half the money of a donation is wasted on getting a ridiculously over-sized check, a photographer to take the picture of it, and the paper for mailed copies of the photograph.

    A little chapel's pious silence invokes in me a holier feeling than St. Peter's Basilica would.
     
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  10. technics

    On Holiday

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    This is probably not what you wanted to hear, but I think they're a blend of proto-fascism and entertainment business. These megachurches sell rather than lead/guide. Their thrill is similar to having bought an iPad compared to the insight from having read a book.

    You should read Emile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
     
  11. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    While I agree with much of what has been said, I will say on the other hand that some mega-churches offer vast networks of small groups that bring things down to a more familial level. I am also fine with the church becoming a sort of community center where many activities (service, study, social) can take place to care for individuals in a more integrated fashion.

    If the basic theology is sound, orthodox, and kept in good balance, I see nothing wrong with mega-ness.

    Howver, excesses can and do happen (as has been mentioned previously)...I would steer clear and/or guard against those aspects. If you perceive little of a deeper nature (aside from the primary public services) I'd steer clear, or at a minimum, work to keep a perspective on things.
     
  12. Aneirin

    Aneirin AKA, David
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    having been a musician in churches large and small I can only share my observations. . at one time I played for a church that was of the mega-church variety. . the "sanctury" was an auditiorium. stage lighting. our stage equipment was first class, concert gear. our ampilfier were in souind booths isolated off stage. . jumbo-tron screens for us and the congregation. . we put on a "show" I guess. . but there was tremendous worshiop that took place there. . I felt God there. . in fact it was there that I had the expeerience of getting a message from Him. . it was a very powerful worship time. .
    I am now in ssmaller church adn there is wonderful worship there too. .
    worship is in the heart of the worshiper . . if you find that being in the stadium church brings you closer to God, then that's where you need to be. .it is not the church bu th heart that hold worship. .
     
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  13. Diana

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    Mega-Churches make me sick to my stomach.
     
  14. Jill Hives

    Jill Hives fhtagn
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    Honestly, they kind of creep me out. Especially churches in malls.
     
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  15. VH

    VH Variable Hybrid

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    I look at it like "Be all things to all people."

    Some folks need a big giant community to stay invested. Other people are reached by an intimate connection. Still others need to meet in a mall, someone's house, or a skateboard park.

    If it makes them happy and helps them connect with God, I'm not concerned with it unless they start trying to convince everyone else that this is the way it should be for everyone.
     
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  16. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    I was told once upon a time that the classic first step to error is thinking that things have got to be one way and no other. There is some pastoral wisdom there, I think.
     
  17. Norwich

    Norwich insistent
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    Definitely! I like our small community parish, not that I've attended for a while. I can tell you though that the things that enamor me are the same things that drive others crazy. The structure is small and modest which reads homey to me. Our liturgy isn't anywhere near as formal as you would find in a cathedral. One of my favorite alter servers is Autistic. He often has to be redirected when missing the cue to preform one of his duties. The fact that he is encouraged and appreciated as a contributing member of the community, is something I love. For one of the Masses there is this amazing choir. They could easily preform in a mega church with the lights and cameras. For the reflection after communion, they often preform a contemporary christian rock piece. I like this too. But I've heard countless people rail against the very things I enjoy. And it doesn't necessarily cut between the expected conservative and liberal lines. I for one would like to see less emphasis put on forced, fake attempts at showing community, and more time in quiet reflection. I get a sense of community by being in a room filled with others quietly reflecting on the Divine presence. However, I realize that many others have different preferences. That doesn't make them wrong. I personally would never find a mega church appealing. But two of my best friends do. To each their own.
     
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    #17 Norwich, Jun 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  18. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    I think many mega-churches try very hard to be relevant to people who come to them. Some probably try too hard.

    I have friends who attend these churches, too. I think they like the diversity of people and programs available.
     
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