Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mega Church

It seems like every year we (the church I attend) send a few people to a leadership conference run by a 'mega-church' from the Chicago area. Every year I cringe when this is announced. Why? I'm sure that those attending will be receiving some good instruction on what it means to be a leader, what it means to lead within a church setting, etc. My concern is that the mentality of the 'Mega-Church' will infect us. How big is too big? If you need to buy a sports stadium in order to fit your congregation, I think you're too big. That's the extreme, of course. But if the leadership in my church is attending these things with those sorts of dreams in mind then we have a problem.
I had a conversation with someone I respect greatly recently, about leadership, specifically within the church. Here's what I wrote to him:
I am always concerned that 'the institutional church' often gets it's ideas of success from the world (bigger is better, popular is good). We think that a successful leader in the world would be a good candidate for a leadership position in the church. I don't doubt that, I just know that there's more to it, and I know that you know that too, such as spiritual giftings, annointing, etc.

I know one of the reasons smaller 'emergent type churhces' are needed is because most mainstream evangelical churches, whether they realize it or not, are pretty good at presenting a certain image of what 'joe church' should look like, how he should act, what opinions he should have, what language he should use, how he should dress, how his money should be spent, etc. It's pretty middle-class, not too radical, nothing to rock the boat. I know I'm speaking in generalizations and I don't mean to offend, but what if that 'joe church' isn't who we should be aspiring to? What if 'joe church' doesn't drive a nice car, he rides a bike everywhere, what if 'joe church' makes money doing odd jobs, and supports his family that way? What if 'joe church' lives in a small house, without many toys or fancy dishes, or the latest digital camera, and no cable (not because TV's evil and he's protecting his kids from it, but because he's got better things to be doing that watching it, like reading or talking to his neighbors or painting). What if 'joe church' is concerned about social justice and the enviroment, and doesn't vote for the obvious 'conservative' candidate in his riding because he isn't a single issue voter? What if 'joe church' started looking more like Jesus, or Peter, or Steven, and less like a normal western middle class success story? I'm not sure who I look more like, but I know who I want to be. I also know that most books on leadership in the church wouldn't identify the person I just described as anyone of significance, even though I'd rather follow them as they lived a genuine life. It's a hard decision, following Jesus.

The conversation continued, and we challenged each other, but haven't talked about it in a couple of months. Thoughts?


Blogger HCJoel said...

It's amusing to me how differently I can view things over the course of my short life. At one point, several years ago, I was fascinated by the megachurches, believing that they must have God's blessing and some damn good programs to have thousands of people showing up.
Now that I'm older and have had more experience, I find myself recoil just as you do from the talk of such huge organizations. I actually question the validity of them and have all sorts of negative thoughts in my mind when they come up in discussion. Churches met in people's houses after Jesus left the earth. Do we need stadiums? Were there not principles and reasons for small communities? Yes, I believe there were and are.

6:15 p.m.  

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