Guest / Limited Access /

Though often defined as a church with more than 2,000 in worship attendance, the "megachurch" is more than that. It's that more that attracts so much controversy.

Another study of the megachurch has emerged this summer—"Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America's Megachurches"—and most media reported on it glowingly, with headlines like "Major Study: Younger Crowds Flocking to U.S. Megachurches"

The study came partly from Leadership Network, which aims to "foster church innovation and growth through strategies, programs, tools, and resources … to identify, connect, and help high-capacity Christian leaders multiply their impact." Leadership Network has been a supporter of megachurches for 25 years, and its mission statement gets at the "more" of the megachurch ethos.

The modern megachurch is now famous for "innovation" and "growth through strategies, programs, tools, and resources" so that churches can "multiply their impact." That's the reason for its success in America, where business principles and organizational techniques sit atop the altar of Success. These principles have indeed led to many Americans being brought into the kingdom of God.

And that only makes sense. We ask overseas missionaries to adapt themselves to the culture they seek to reach. When megachurches do that in the United States, and do it effectively, we should not complain.

But at some point cultural adaptation itself needs to be adapted—back into gospel culture. For instance, African churches found it necessary to tolerate polygamy and other cultural practices in the first generation of missionaries. But by the second and third generations, maturing Christian disciples were undermining polygamy. In ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only CDs on The List
Short reviews of new albums by mewithoutYou, Julie Lee, Christopher Ames, and Mat Kearney.
Current IssueIn This Issue: Our Sustaining Force
In This Issue: Our Sustaining Force
How the gospel truth lightens our load.
RecommendedTrump Won. Here's How 20 Evangelical Leaders Feel.
Trump Won. Here's How 20 Evangelical Leaders Feel.
Pastors, authors, and others weigh in on 2016 election.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickThe Grace of Church Discipline
The Grace of Church Discipline
We do no one any favors if we ignore or downplay core beliefs.
Christianity Today
Mega-mirror
hide thisAugust August

In the Magazine

August 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.