Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unintended Critique of the Megachurch... What's your fix?

     What happens when unbelievers shed light on dangerous trends in evangelicalism?  We listen! (Prov 12:1)  I don't normally browse "Seattle Weekly", but occasionally, folks leave it on the bus, and I look for societal/religious/political insight into folks I might be talking to.  This story is a great example... how do educated pagans view Christian services and worship?  In this example, church is a drug, a drug that needy Christians take to "get a fix" and make it through their week.
     The key to this scenario is the kind of churches the researchers chose:  the uniquely American invention of the megachurch.  "Megachurches, defined as having a weekly congregation of more than 2,000 people, are a relatively new phenomenon, and they have become staggeringly popular. There are now more than 1,500 Protestant megachurches in the United States, at least 50 of which boast weekly attendance figures from 10,000 to 47,000. More than half of all churchgoers attend the largest 10 percent of churches in America." (Emphasis mine)  As you might guess, the article is not overly positive of this type of church... my question is "Is it justified?"
     The charges leveled at these megachurches are they are "glorified rock concerts" that "master the art of creating a welcoming, non-intimidating ethos and aesthetic."  This spitwad that sticks disturbingly well to the megachurch that seeks to replace the preaching of the gospel with a man-centered methodology. Rather than humbly trust God to apply His truth to those who have ears to hear (who did that?... oh right! Jesus!), "a megachurch sermon can create an "Oxytocin cocktail" in your brain that includes other neurotransmitters and hormones. These combine to build a "sense of recognition, trust, and a reduction of stress.""
     It is truly a sad day when we seek to replace God with a light and sound show; but the most piercing arrow of judgment into the futility of doing God's work man's way comes from the conclusion these UW researchers draw about these megachurches and their message:   "The megachurch message is more positive about being good or different people," Corcoran says, comparing modern megachurches to the fire-and-brimstone preachers of old. "The pastors are not generating horror and terror and fear of the afterlife, but really positive sentiments."  Ancient Israel had pastors like this... they said "Peace, peace", but there was no peace.

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