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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: ...

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Displaying 1–40 of 40 comments

Graham UK

August 19, 2009  4:08am

'Come to me in spirit and in truth' - these words resonated when I was called from a very dark place into The Light. If our experience, discernment and response lead us forward in total surrender to God then so be it. God bless us all.

Selva Prabhakar

August 16, 2009  3:34pm

'Megachurches' do not function as a 'church' but as a 'club' when people just flock to get some 'experience.' In megachurches there is no real Sheep-Shepherd relationship taking place. If Church is defined as an 'assembly' of Christians, then the numerical volume cannot be set. If, on the other hand, Church is defined as the 'Flock' of God, then the Sheep-Shepherd relationship is inevitable. In megachurches pastors themselves may not 'know' the believers. The irony is that the Chief Shepherd says, "He knows His sheep and calls them by name." (John 10).

Anna

August 13, 2009  1:50pm

Myrna, God is not concerned with the style of the music but whether the congregation is worshiping in spirit and in truth. If the words of the songs are true and the people are really worshiping God, then it does not matter the style. Unless you are suggesting that we should only sing exactly the songs and styles that were sung in the Bible, I don't think we can complain about the styles.

Dana

August 12, 2009  7:46am

I'm 26 attend a "mega-church". It used to be small, but grew. I've volunteered in some capacity since I became a believer 9 yrs ago. Our pastor teaches sound biblical truths. Yeah, there are people there who are consumer christians, but false believer-ism has been going on for centuries. And about "rock band" music... it's my style, so why judge how I worship God? Many hymn tunes came from songs that were sung in bars- can God not redeem anything? Why is the guitar evil? What about jeans? I have visited a strict denomination where dress was of the utmost importance- I wore black slacks and a blouse- and I got the evil eye and a talking to because I was not wearing a floor length skirt. Really? Did Jesus put those kind of restrictions on people coming to him? Was not the demon possessed man, um, naked? And the lepers he healed surely couldn't have been dressed to the nines. Jesus thought outside the box of "religiousity" of the Pharisees and if Jesus did, shouldn't we?

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Myrna

August 11, 2009  11:43pm

My experience is that most megachurches attract the young people because they cater to their generation's music - first and foremost. The praise and worship is like a rock concert. The Bible says "and be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed . . ." Secular style music has it's place but not in the church. I see people go to church dressed up like they're going to the beach or to a barbeque party. When a man is going to see a girl for a visit or on a date, he dresses up real nice for her. When we go to the office, we're all dressed up like professionals we are. But why can't these people dress up for God? Isn't God important enough to get dressed up for? I was born and raised in a small church of 300. The services are all invitiations to nonbelievers to come to Christ. In the mega churches today, there are no invitations after the preaching. If there is one worthy of solemnn praise and worship, fervent prayer, dressing up for, it is Jesus.

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andy tuckerjesus1 READ THIS

August 11, 2009  3:01pm

First I just thank God for another day.Evil torments me evryday.Not even my thoughts happen.Let us hope that the church officials is not just for money making.It is very noticable.Lets hope the most righteous helpful attendee controls the church.Sinning tired pentecostals,Aristocratic church,God still loves you.He still wants you to be his.Even if, thousnds still hate Jesus.Keep the fire inside you. Things are or maybe purgatorish.Think on righteousness and righteous solutions.Sanctified could be so poor not a vehicle to get to the righteous church.Thousands of anti christians are outthere.Please telll your friends of Gods righteousness. If you want to.Invite God in your heart today.Amen!! Praise his precious names. Romans 3:23-God will work with us.Gal 3:3, col 3:11- a lot of minsters do not preach it. God likes or loves his likers. Lovers not sinners is what we want to be.Rev 12: evil angels set out to destroy.Torment us.And fool us.God wants us to be like angel not just entertainm

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Aris Metaxakis

August 10, 2009  5:18pm

The Christian Church in the West today is concerned more with optics than substance. The mega church trend will die when people realize these shepherds are not given them the truth about the Christian life. There may be a a few exceptions. The Christ of Golgotha is not popular today. Most elders in churches today are aware of the skin deep Christianity but are not willing to speak up out of fear: the fear of man or of the pastor; the pastor is afraid to say like it is because his paycheque is in the balance and so is the mortgage. Programs, one after the other, keep the congregation from getting bored but there is no real leadership or vision. It is sad and I am afraid God is going to have to pull the plug on us. He is in fact began the process by unplugging the economy and raising up a reman who are weeping in private over the state of affairs in God's house. May our kind and gracious Lord be merciful to us and send a revival of sincerity before judgment comes.

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Jack Graham

August 10, 2009  10:26am

Another excellent article that can be used to bring Christ's Church to maturity.

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Karen

August 09, 2009  10:59pm

I do not think Mega churches are bad if preaching the whole counsel of God is their primiary focus. Unfortuantely, when a chuch gets big, it usally needs a higher revenue stream to function, and when that happens their is a greater risk of preaching a feel good message to keep the members happy and bring others in the door. Moreover, their is typically a lot of buzz surrounding mega-churches that can feed into egos and desires to be known as prominent in the community. When this happens, there is also a tendnecy "not to offend" lest anything bad be said about the church.

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Leah

August 09, 2009  6:10pm

I've attended both mega and mini churches. When you move to a new area you want a church with a good social group and the larger churches tend to have that better than the smaller ones. What I love in a small church is the sense of community and how everyone tends to know everyone. You don't get that as much in a megachurch. But, what you get in a megachurch is the larger social group and I do need that. Both sizes can have the right focus on Jesus and the Bible and they can also have the wrong focus. You think because a church is a mega they must be doing something right, but that doesn't mean the small church is doing something wrong.

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James Morgan

August 09, 2009  4:27pm

I see no harm in a megachurch as long as it is what the Lord would have it to be. After all 3000 were added to the Lord's church on the day of pentacost 33ad (Acts 2). However, megachurches as well as smaller churches must be guided by the scripture in all matters. Let us not forget it is the Lord's church not ours. (Matt 16) Let us always strive to keep the church pure as the bride of christ no matter how big or small it is.

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Nevada Wally

August 09, 2009  8:06am

Unfortunately, the mega-church I was involved with spent more time on commercialism rather than address the needs of the congregation. It was bigger productions, more events, and show rather than proclaiming the gospel. It was a feel good church with little foundation. The pastor refused to visit with people and rarely performed the duties of the pastor. He hide behind the Senior Pastor title, stays home, prepares presentations and worked on his book. Many have left because there is no substance and God's Word is not being taught.

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Ken

August 08, 2009  11:16am

I think this article isn't necessarily about large churches vs. smaller churches; it's about making sure we have our priority of discipleship in order. It's easy for any church- of any size- to get its focus off of the goal of making disciples. Our church, The Well (a group of home churches), is getting ready to do an internal survey to make sure we are doing an appropriate job of teaching and training our attendees. We want to make sure that folks who attend The Well understand the Scriptures and know how to take what they learn in church and apply to it their daily lives. In ten years, we don't want to look back and wish we would have been more diligent to be intentional with teaching Biblical doctrine. I invite you to be part of our journey at www.LeaveTheBuildingBlog.com.

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Joe

August 07, 2009  11:05pm

You know the last two statements about falling short could apply to every local church in every decade during the almost 2000 years of the history of Christianity. It's like saying the grass is green. We all know the grass is green. And, if you're Reformed, there will never, ever be a time at any moment in the history of any Christian life, let alone local church, when this statement will not be true. So heck why not just put it on the mast head of this magazine. Christianity Today: A magazine whose contributors fall short of the glory of God. Worm theology at its best.

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James Wesly Smith

August 07, 2009  8:36pm

Mega-Church or not-it really doesn't matter. For the Church is really "the people of God", and doesn't need a building to exist. If memory serves, Yeshua gave sermons in two mega-churches--when He fed the 4000, and again when He fed the 5000.

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In Theatres Soon

August 07, 2009  4:37pm

It's attack of the 7000 member monsterchurch! No amount of criticism could stop it! It came from the suburbs swallowing helpless victims of smaller churches by the dozens. No one could contain the roar of its multiple decibel sound system or the blinding rays from its glowing jumbtron eyes! It came to spawn satellite congregations in your neighborhood. Whatever you do don't leave your homes! Lock your doors! Hide! It's coming for you!

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John Holecek

August 07, 2009  4:03pm

Sweet, Lord Jesus Christ. Pour out a spirit of wisdom on the Protestant world so that its members might see that their endless search for strategies, modes of worship, etc. are a search for you in the most holy Eucharist. Protestants shall forever be restless until they find their rest in you in the Eucharist. How my heart yearns for one faith, one baptism, one God over us all.

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MP

August 07, 2009  2:14pm

Hi Sheila, All the best to you and your friends at Saddleback. Your comments are helpful, since what some of the posts are trying to say is that - contrary to the mega church approach which teaches abstract principles and motivates you to "infuse" faith into the rest of life - classical, Trinitarian Christiainty, which is grounded in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father, infuses faith, hope, and love in US by means of our liturgical participation in the life of God through the presence of the Word and Spirit who constitute and indwell the Church as Christ's Body. There is a huge difference in the two visions of reality. The mega church was born within the sacred/secular split that defines modernity.

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Michael (Spain)

August 07, 2009  11:37am

mega church has nothing to do with true biblical christianity only american christianity just gimmicks to keep them there. thats why the church in amerika is more like the world and not separated from it. how many times do you hear preaching on SIN ??? Persecution ??? alot of doctrine that is in amerikas churchs would not get converts in thrid world countries.

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wiseabove.blogspot.com

August 07, 2009  11:22am

God bless you.

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Ignatius

August 07, 2009  10:02am

One of the problems with many megachurches is the accessibility of the senior pastor. If one wanted to see Hybels, Warren or Osteen would it even be possible? For those who like to do research here is a link to a database of megachurches in the U.S. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/database.html

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Dave

August 07, 2009  9:21am

This is an interesting article. And it speaks to the norm rather than the exception. I am a member of a megachurch (more than 2000 worshippers) that breaks all the rules. There is no church growth stategy, rather a call to church planting, there is a much higher ministry participation than described and people tend to stay for their lifetimes. What's the difference? Christians are drawn to the clear and concise preaching of the gospel week in and week out. Christ himself has grown my church, to his glory.

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Johann

August 07, 2009  8:00am

Let's be honest- Megachurch = Pentecostal.

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Dixie

August 07, 2009  7:14am

I have been a part of both mega-churches and small churches. The size of the congregation is less important to Biblical literacy than the kind of leadership and teaching that's in place (and for heaven's sake, it is about biblical literacy or is it about changed lives through the Word AND the Spirit? I know some who are much more "Biblically literate" than I but have a very low estimation of Christ's work.). In smaller churches, I have experienced the 80/20 rule (80% of the work is carried out by 20% of the congregation). So what gives? Jesus had a large following but we know that many did not become disciples. Some probably hung with him to get fed. Should I throw stones at Jesus' ministry because followers weren't literate or that some denied Him?

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Asen Suhendra

August 07, 2009  6:21am

It happens not only in America but almost every where in the world.People tend to go to the "easy shallow- teaching" churches.Hide themselves amongst the multitude from the searching light of the Holy Spirit, so they can keep going to have their worldly carnal life.While on the other hand they become very proud to be a member of a big church. I do not oppose any big churches, as long as the leaders teach biblically, not the custom made Gospel which only motivated the greed to have offering, bigger assembly, and come out from the desire to please men instead of God.Sacrificing Jesus to get worldly riches,and at the last let the sheeps to stay childish never reach maturity in character and knowledge of God.

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The G

August 06, 2009  10:23pm

The Mega Church congregations are BIBLICALLY ILLITERATE. And their approach has infected the rest. The current level of solid Bible doctrine taught is shamefully low.

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Scott

August 06, 2009  9:08pm

Christ said himself unless you come to HIM as a child you shall never enter his Kingdom.Get with USA if you do not accecpt the New Testament in its fullness you Will NOT enter IN! Your numbers resemble TV ratings?

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Andrew McGovern

August 06, 2009  8:32pm

Good article. I do agree with the two other comments that "gospel culture" (whatever that is) should have been defined. I do see a glaring omission in the article, however. The church in America has actually been in decline for quite some time. It is true that some megachurches (and the number of megachurches) have been growing. Overall, however, the number of Christians in America is declining. Are megachurches actually accomplishing "effective ministry" as the article mentions? Or are they simply consolidating Christians into bigger churches while the overall number is declining? It gives the appearance of "success" but it simply is not. May I recommend two good books? "The New Shape of World Christianity" by Mark Noll, and "The Courage to be Protestant" by David Wells. Both of these books shed light on the declining American church and the expanding of the Gospel into other countries. Both are written by excellent scholars. Grace and peace to all of you!

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Dale Fincher

August 06, 2009  7:57pm

I appreciate the article to open more conversation... I think part of the problem is that we have made the Great Commission the Only Commission so that as long as people are hearing the gospel, the church has done it's primary and most important service. Perhaps much of what we see today is actually an outgrowth of 19th century tent revival Christianity after it washed through fundamentalism and changed strategies with large Crusades. But what if there's more, what if our very idea of church is on its head and has been for a long time? Why are we calling people "passive" in these megachurches because they don't volunteer at the "church" establishment? The very assumption that raises that critique should be questioned... I'm unsure if volunteering at "church" is even in the Scriptures as an activity to do at "church"... if "church" in this way is even in the Scriptures. Would love more round-table discussions on this among leaders... give me a seat at the table. :)

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Ron Lawler

August 06, 2009  7:13pm

Few would argue that the overall worldview of the US is moving away from a Christian Worldview, but what precisely and per the Scriptures is a "biblical" or "gospel culture?"

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Bert Warden

August 06, 2009  6:47pm

Sad to say, the following quote pretty well describes most of our evangelical churches today: "While the megachurch has some unique dynamics, most medium-sized and smaller churches in America are not that much different in demographics. It's not as if no young people attend smaller churches, or as if every member of a smaller church is an active volunteer! And many a smaller church chases after 'strategies and programs' that can 'meet spiritual needs' and 'multiply effectiveness.'" For example: Announce there is a play to be presented. Dozens of volunteers will spend hours assembling sets and memorizing scripts. Then announce a half-night of prayer for a Holy Spirit visitation upon the church. If a dozen turn out it's a great victory. We desperately need to read and heed what Jesus wrote to the church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22 ! It is repent or perish. We should be scared half to death!

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Gospel Culture

August 06, 2009  6:31pm

I agree that we need to aim towards a gospel culture. The way I see that is that we need to follow the methods of the apostles, aiming for strong moral teaching and practice (better than the Pharisees) and a sharing of our income and resources amongst the needy. A close knit harmony between the brothers and sisters in the church needs to develop. How is this possible with large numbers who meet in a crowd and who are addressed with microphones, entertainment, bread and circuses?

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MP

August 06, 2009  6:26pm

I can only say "Amen" to this thoughtful essay. The question is whether the mega church has been faithful to our vocation of faithfully receiving and handing down the Apostolic witness. I have said for a number of years that the mega church movenment, on the whole (there are exceptions, of course) is a manifestation of Protestant liberalism at the popular level. The great irony is that mega churches, complaining of those "dead, boring, traditional" mainline churches has mimicked their turn away from the wisdom of the Christian past, its tradition of doctrine, liturgy, and disciplined life. They have also reinforced the nineteenth century "turn to the subject," essentially making it a test of church growth "orthodoxy." In other words, they have shown us that it is possbile to grow a big church without God. If this is the "wave of the future" we are in for trouble. However, there is very little about this that is "cutting edge" or truly interesting. Good work with this essay.

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Gerry S

August 06, 2009  5:58pm

We have to stop criticizing mega churches for being large. If they are doing effective ministry, good. If they are doing ineffective ministry, that's bad. There is a reason most small churches are small. It is because they do a lousy job. I have been in small churches all my life and they do not do very good jobs of community, evanglism, discipleship, etc. I wish I could experience a mega church to see what that wouldbe like.

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In His Grip

August 06, 2009  5:51pm

The Church is primarily a family not a business. A family with 3000 children has inherent problems. 1. Problem solving tends to be too pragmatically driven. Decision making becomes practical and democratic. 51% becomes more the norm and the minority rule of the leader becomes subjucated to the insidious influences of Wall street. 2. The Mega Churches generally develop a rock star status for their leaders. First to be interviewed by CNN as if the leaders have some level of quotability unlike their mini Church Pastor friends. 3. They usually create a culture of elitism. Mini Church teenagers are not exposed to the social,networking razzle dazzle and are made to feel they are missing something. 4. The Megas generally grow through the attrition of the minis. Denominational leaders bypass the small faithful country Pastor because they would never fit in with the complex decision making of the Head Office Group. 5. They collect disgruntled disciples without impunity.

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Basil

August 06, 2009  4:37pm

Here is a secondary link to the survey mentioned at the benning of this article. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/megachurch_attender_report.h tm

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Sheila

August 06, 2009  4:27pm

As a longtime, volunteering member of Saddleback Church, this article doesn't resonate with me. I don't understand the assumption of compartmentalization that underlies it. It's a bit ironic, as last Sunday's lesson was about overcoming popular culture and focusing on Christian principles in our relationships with our friends. This lesson was significant of an enduring theme of sermons at Saddleback: As Christians we are called to infuse our faith into every aspect of our lives, rather than setting it aside for Sunday morning. http://godspottingwithsheila.blogspot.com/

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AP

August 06, 2009  3:24pm

Huh... This very article imitates the business culture ethos - at least the problem solving side of it anyways: Identify the problem, discuss the various issues related to and causing the problem, and then offer up a nice tidy answer to the problem. Business culture is indeed insidious.

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Basil

August 06, 2009  11:55am

My general observation is that here in America the growth of the Church is measured locally or by individual churches (Willow Creek, Saddleback, Lakewood ect.) rather than on a global scale. (The Church worldwide has grown by 10% ect) As an aside I remember a book written in the 90s by Greg Pritchard. It was a condensation of a dissertation published by Baker Book House where he did an extensive sociological study of Willow Creek The conclusions very similar to this article. When I went to Willow Creek to visit years ago I asked Bill Hybels If he had read it. His answer was no. I wonder how many megachurch pastors will read the Leadership Survey? I guess many of them adhere to one of the 10 commandments of American culture "You can't argue with success"

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KC

August 06, 2009  11:41am

I agree 100%! But what does a "Gospel culture" look like? I am sure many people in churches of any size are convinced that their church is cultured according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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