Monday, February 06, 2006

Consumerlike Mega-churches?

Here's an interesting article on the recent growth of protestant megachurches in the U.S. One quote that jumped out to me:

The growth of megachurches in recent decades has come about because of a common historic cycle in U.S. religion: faith institutions reinventing themselves to meet the consumerlike demands of worshippers, said Paul Harvey, American history professor at the University of Colorado who specializes in U.S. religious history.

"We have a market economy of religion," he said. "Megachurches just show the instant adaptability of religious institutions. They reflect how Americans have morphed their religious institutions into the way they want them to be. Religious institutions have to respond to that."

This brings up some interesting questions:
1) Should churchgoers have their "consumerlike" demands met? Since when do people really know what they want? Or better yet, since when do people really know what they ought to have?
2) Has the proliferation of protestant denominations in the US created a true "market economy of religion"? Can everyone now find something they like? Is this even a good thing?
3) Are churches no longer being judged on whether or not they preach truth, but rather on their marketing and entertainment abilities?

2 Comments:

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

And as far as megachurches go, there's of course the fear that church leaders care only about being entertaining and not preaching the truth. Our pastor talked about just that two separate
times this past month. Truth should always reign supreme. But I'm not sure that means churches should embrace being boring. Jesus
was among many things a great storyteller and based on his crowds, a definite seat-filler. If you're preaching the truth and there's no one there to hear it, then you're still failing as a church.

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

The idea of consumerism attacking the Church is a real concern to me. Certainly, many megachurches are drawing thousands to Christ, but I fear that the message is diluted to some extent by the material culture that is subconsciously promulgated. It is really the work of the Holy Spirit that a church would remain focused on the winning, building, and sending and not allowing the prevading culture to become the practice of the congregations. It has been helpful to travel, seeking to know: "Is this church-related action cultural or biblical?"

 

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