Megachurches on Radio National

I’ve just listened to an interesting program from two Sundays ago on Radio National’s Spirit of Things.  The Spirit of Things often seems disconnected from the evangelical/pentecostal world, and it was good to see this intelligent engagement with it. It starts out with an excellent critique of the megachurch phenomenon by Marion Maddox, including its fixation on wealth, its individualism and its many backdoors of people leaving disillusioned. (There I am cheering Marion on.) But then there’s a twist, with an articulate defence of the movement by Jacquie Grey, ‘young’ (was Rachael Kohn being condescending or complimentary?) academic dean and OT lecturer at what was Southern Cross College but is now named after some star. I’m not a convert, but Jacquie responded very well to what she must have known what was not going to be the most sympathetic interview, recognising the movement’s shortcomings and its shifts and attempts to address these problems. (Nothing is more gracious, in my opinion, than recognising your own shortcomings. It’s something I’ve never heard one or two evangelical movements do.)

It bugs me how influential megachurches are on the wider evangelical movement. It is now almost compulsory to aspire toward being a megachurch, at least from what I’ve heard about Baptist churches in my neck of the woods.

Megachurches are antithetical to Anabaptism, that’s for sure. Anabaptists hate crowds, for a start. (Tongue in cheek, I offer this facetious comment in lieu of a full blown discussion, as I’m not up to it right now.)

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3 thoughts on “Megachurches on Radio National

  1. My problem with the Mega church phenomena is that you can go there and just be in this ridiculous hyper reality. The auditorium is dark so there is no way of connecting with the person next to you the only family you know anything about is the pastor and his family and you don’t actually have any real connection with them. I’ve got a friend badly burnt by some people who go to a mega church. Doing the kind of actions that in a regular little church where people know some of what’s going on in your life would have pulled them up on the sin months ago, but when you go to a that is as social an event as going to the movies or to a concert that just has no chance of happening. Church should be irritating and somewhat dysfunctional otherwise it means there aren’t any real people involved just a production team.

  2. Amen Chris! My thoughts exactly. My visit to one felt a lot like going to a concert or the cinema – and I don’t mean Luna, I mean Hoyts.

    Of course, megachurches have small groups, but their energy and focus is on that super gathering, generally.

  3. Hi Nathan,

    Healthy relationships can only develop in such churches:
    (1) where there is a respect for diversity and a toleration of theological, experiential and behavioral differences on peripheral issues.
    (2) where there is a common unity around Jesus and the biblical witness to him on the central issues,
    (3) where compassion, mercy and kindness are fostered in relationships.

    These things can only be developed if we have time to listen to one another, dialogue with one another to seek to understand each other and to share our pain, suffering and failings as well as the joys and triumphs we experience by God’s grace.

    These things seem to be next to impossible to establish in megachurches in the large meetings because there is not enough time to get to know people. People just get lost in the crowd. Maybe some connection occurs in the small groups but sometimes there is simply too much pressure to conform to “group think”.

    Shalom,
    John Arthur

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