December 6, 2004 | 10 Comments

Today, I ran across an interesting article about a reporter’s visit to a megachurch from a weekly magazine in the Twin Cities area. It’s always good to hear other perspectives…

(Thanks to ChurchMarketingSucks for the link.)

  • Dean

    OUCH! When this quote comes from a first time visitor – that hurts. Oh so obvious to everyone and oh so true.

    ” But it’s the very size and magnitude of the church that leaves me feeling uneasy. With so many opportunities and countless programs, it seems like members are constantly racing from one activity to the next. In addition to what I imagine is a busy life in the secular world, these folks are inundated with extracurricular church responsibilities. And despite a willingness to participate in religious activities, I wonder if some people aren’t trading quality for quantity. A full day planner doesn’t necessarily translate to a purposeful life. Busy doesn’t mean fulfilled.”

  • J.J.

    After reading this article I hurt because I don’t know what to do. The reality of this article rips at my heart because I identify more with the feelings of the author than the feelings of the subjects. However, my actions are right in line with the church goers. Relevance seems to have been replaced by excelence and I don’t know how to do it any different. I’ve been raised in a culture, church culture that is, that preaches comfort and containment. Bring in the “broken” so we can fix them and make things look as “appealing” as possible in the process. Giving your life over to God means that you may just get that boat and bigger home you’ve been dreaming of. If they don’t get it then there must be something wrong with them. Continue doing what we know is right and eventually they’ll catch on or they are just hard of heart and we shouldn’t waste our time anyway.

    I see the problems but am also part of the problems. I think I need to move to India. Things seemed much simpler there. You can’t be so flashy when a language barrier forces hugs to speak louder than clever skits and illiteration. How quickly I forget.

    When so much of who I strive to be is more about winning the lost and fixing the broken then anything else, I loose site of who Jesus was to people. I don’t even know what that really means for me and my actions other than I need to think and feel differently. It does, however, give reason to why I often leave church more empty and hollow then when I arrived. Oh what to do? My first instinct it to pull away, which I don’t think is the answer, but India does sound pretty good.

    So much rambling. I just want to change.

  • This article sums up very well how many of my secular friends (young, middle aged, and old) have viewed church. Christians continually live in denial of this reality–and folks, it is a reality. So—I think we *need* to look at this article as a common voice that has “broken though,” so to speak, and pray about what needs to be changed, and then be committed to these changes. This is not being “relevant,” “culture savvy,” or “swinging the pendulum,” this is about putting God in front of people and not a religious multi-media extravaganza. So, having gotten that out of the way…

    …what strikes me most about this article is how different the pastor was from his congregation. Which leads me to ask, is he really preaching from his heart, or is he just “saying all the right things,” because he knows what people will agree with and what will bring in the numbers? Maybe this sounds a bit cynical, but it’s always amazed me to talk with pastors one-on-one then hear what they preach.

    We should be real with people.

  • Dean

    The pastor she was referring to was the one who was the visiting teacher in their 30’s class.

    Also, let’s also realize that there were thousands of people who were at this church, most of whom would claim, I believe, that this church had a large impact on their lives. This church is not “wrong”.

    What we have to realize is that the mega-church will appeal to one type of individual but not another – nothing wrong with that. Are they doing ministry perfectly, probably not, but I sure don’t want all the faults of my ministry exposed for the world to read about. This is, in my opinion, why church planting is so important to our present culture. We need churches of all types. I sensed a responsiveness in the authors words, a search for something spiritual, even an intrigue over what was taking place. It just might take a different church to do that.

  • Gary

    They say that most pastors are far more liberal than their congregations. I’m not sure who “they” is, but whatever.

    I also felt a sting when reading this article, but I also grew hopeful. I love articles like this, because it gives us the opportunity to truly see our attempts at outreach and our “seeker sensitivity” truly look like to the visitor. The church described here reminded me of many megachurches that I’ve seen. It smacks of inauthenticity. The questions that they seem to be asking are: How can we make church cool? How can we get someone who wants to have nothing to do with church think, “That wasn’t so bad. Church people aren’t squares after all. They’re totally radical.” In the end it’s just another gimmick to trick people to come through doors another time. Not only that, but a gimmick that is reaching the wrong decade. I picture a middle-aged dad desperately trying to relate to his kids and their friends by “speaking on their level.” He thinks he’s cool, but the result is really just embarassment.

    Maybe that’s too harsh, but maybe not.

  • david

    a real hug is always louder than words in my book too.

    i sensed the author keenly and intentionally writing not to her own ‘alt.’ audience, but to an actual alternative audience, us, or we, The Church. It sounded to me like she knew exactly what to say to poke into the areas that we must admit are sensitive… i think it has more to do with her own justification of non-church, non-suburban lifestyle than anything else… like this was a subtle and crafty report with presupositions and goals that was only disguised as an investigation. maybe not.

    There are definate alienation byproducts at work in every church, necessarily if only in the exclusivity of homogeny by proximity.

    I wonder what she’d think if she stepped into Mars Hill in MI, or Harvest Bible Chapel in IL, or central in AZ, or if she committed to joining a small group for a month in any of them… similiar, different?

    i kinda just wanna throw this out there… to what extent ought the foreigness and offensiveness of the gospel be experienced in a regular church service? Im not strawing this lady’s reactions up to gospel aversion… but this is where my mind went… seeker sensitive mega church services are much more like permenant, weekly, big tent revival evangelism meetings to me, and the real churches reside in the various small groups… i think i would react to a on-going revival meeting the way she did, it creates some issues, but i wonder what she’d think if she experieced a real face to face, heart to heart community without the political pretense of writing an editorial report…
    (the rambler rides again)

  • scarter

    this woman is free to say and write about anything. that’s awesome. then she steps into a realm where (according to the article) these same rules do not exist. next, she’s pulled aside by a visiting pastor who whispers that he voted for kerry in the corner. i wonder if she wonders why he whispered it? i wonder if she left grateful that she has full freedom to express herself, rather than having to whisper something in the corner?

    also, about church planting…i wonder if many churches today being started are the same…they might look different; but can they actually discuss/ask questions/teach with the freedom that this woman writes with? maybe this is a dream, cause deep down i know that’s me in the corner.

  • Dean

    That’s me in the spotlight.

  • for some reason, I feel like I’m losing my religion

  • Dean

    Oh no, I’ve said too much!