There is a wide disparity of opinion about how true to Christ mega-churches are. I probably fall somewhere in the middle of that opinion. As I see it, the pastor of the small church that I currently attend doesn’t have much good to say about any of them. He seems to say that, in order to appeal to the most number of people, they dilute the words of Christ almost beyond recognition. And, of course, they would never show a cross in their building because they believe is just too much of a downer. He doesn’t seem to differentiate one mega-church from another; as far as he is concerned they are all pretty much the same.
I do believe that some mega-churches are as my pastor describes but there are others who follow a truer path to Christ. Many churches become very large on the skills and personality of their pastors. As long as those pastors don’t let the sin of pride consume them, and many of them in the past have done just that, then they are indeed expanding Christ’s mission on this earth according to His will. Rick Warren is one of the very successful mega-church pastors. He is senior pastor at Saddlebrook Church in California. To the disdain of many in the homosexual community, he will be giving the invocation at the Obama inaugural coming up in a couple of weeks. He is the author of The Purpose Driven Life and several other similar themed books. He is also a reverse tither in that he gives 90% of his income back to God’s work. He doesn’t fixate on the “poor miserable sinner” aspect as many evangelical churches seem to but instead chooses to concentrate on viewing God as a benevolent father who loves us all. Just what mix of benevolent God/Vengeful God is proper I don’t know and I’m not sure anyone really knows.
I think the put downs on mega-churches by some is from a streak of envy rather than strict theological boundaries. It is hard to see your church shrinking while the mega-churches are growing and not have a tinge of pain. A book that I will soon be reviewing on this blog is entitled The Present Future by Reggie McNeal covers this topic in more detail. In the book Reggie McNeal questions the old notions of what the church is and should be in today’s world.
We who are in smaller churches should, instead of putting down the mega-churches, be trying to learn from them how to bring more people to Jesus Christ. All the glory be to God alone.