Is The Megachurch The New Liberalism?
Albert Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In case you missed it, there was a recent article written by him titled, “Is The Megachurch The New Liberalism?”
Now, it has been my experience that a person can comment and even criticize something within the church and get away with it relatively easy. However, when you actually put a name or a face to the criticism, things tend to get a little heated. That is what has happened in Mohler’s article. In the article, he criticizes and sites megachurch pastor Andy Stanley as an example of how liberalism is slowly seeping into the megachurch. This criticism then opened up the door for more interesting things to happen. In response to Mohler, the megachurch pastor, Rick Warren, tweeted Mohler obviously showing concern for the title of his blog post. Drama I tell you!
So, are megachurches becoming the new liberals of the day? Dr. Todd Fisher, a pastor of Immauel Baptist Church states,
“Yes, there are many pastors of megachurches who are faithful to the Bible (as Mohler noted), but the reality is that there are many, not just one, who are not. The pressures of the culture are making doctrinal faithfulness too challenging for many. That was Mohler’s point- and one that should be well received.”
Chris Rosebrough at “Fighting for the Faith,” also does an excellent job of pointing out what makes a church liberal or not. In his online radio broadcast he covers the history of the megachurch and many of the struggles that the megachurch is facing today. I would highly suggest checking his program out. The megachurch segment begins at 40:25.
For the sake of this post on BJS I have two brief points for us to consider.
- I have spent years and literally thousands of hours trying to implement the methodologies and mimic the supposed success stories of megachurches. Yes, I have drank the Kool-Aid of megachurches and I am still trying to shake its teachings off of me. For those of you who have drank the same Kool-Aid, I am sure that you can recall hearing the concerns that came from confessionally solid individuals about the pitfalls of megachurches. So, my point is this. What does it now say that we are beginning to hear concerns coming from those within the megachurch world?
- If my memory serves me right, megachurches only make up 2% of all churches in the United States. To my knowledge the average church in America does not worship 2,000-5,000 parishioners but around 50-100 on a typical Sunday. This raises the question, do we give megachurches too much attention? I believe we do. If they only represent 2% of all churches, why do we look to them as if they are the norm and give them so much weight? I believe it is time for us to put megachurches in their proper context. While we can always learn something from megachurch pastors and while we can certainly learn from the plethora of downfalls, we need to be careful to understand that their stories are really an anomaly. Why on earth should we hold megachurches that represent 2% of all churches as the norm? Furthermore, do we not derive our mission, values and identity not from apparently successful churches but rather from the Word?
I welcome your feedback!
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