Open Forum V: Mars Hill

This is our fifth Open Forum, all the others have been great. Some of you gripe to me because I wont let your comments air. While you have a right to gripe, griping usually will only get your griping deleted. If your comment is vulgar, tasteless, uncouth, out of context, tangential, tactless or otherwise distasteful to me, it will not be published. I am the final authority on that.

However, I tend to be much more charitable and gracious on the Open Forums. We’ll call this one Mars Hill, so bring your very best arguments for or against any subject (within reason) and we let it through. Of course that doesnt mean it wont be challenged by me or someone else. Also it doesnt mean you can’t counterchallenge should you choose to do so.

I’ll kick it off.

I dont think the “megachurch” model currently reigning as the desired after church standard is biblical. I think after a while it will run its course and become a religious dinosaur. I think all those who have built their careers on megachurch mentality will be in a spiritual soupline. What do you think?


20 thoughts on “Open Forum V: Mars Hill

  1. I agree. Look at the Bible — the church at Jerusalem grew to be a mega-church in a very short time, and then was split apart by strong persecution. While I suppose it is possible that there were other churches with memberships numbering in the thousands, it appears from what I read in the Bible that most of the churches were small, meeting in homes or other private places of assembly. This also fits the idea of a church being a body, with everyone knowing and communicating with everyone else. So-called members of mega-churches cannot possibly know each other in that personal way.

  2. I wonder if there are some biblical examples of the megachurch. The Israelites, when they exited from Egypt, were a type of megachurch, with hundreds of thousands of members, under one leader. Although it was more of a temple than church. In the new testament, we have the church under Peter in which thousands joined in one day. But I don’t know, it may depend on how you define a church or mega-church.

    I don’t personally attend or enjoy attending such church types; but, apparently, some people get something out of them–although I’m not sure how. The way my friends describe their megachurch (I’m in Houston by the way), it sounds like their cellgroup is a little church. So they have a bunch of a little churches under the umbrella of a megachurch. Apparently, the megachurch wouldn’t work if it did not have the little cellgroups/churches–sorry, that’s tangential.

    But yep, I do get the feeling that their season is coming to a close.

  3. I agree Kathy the Jerusalem church swelled to thousands in a short time and as you noted they were scattered by the will of the Lord through persecution because they were not fulfilling the “GO” command of the great commission.

    Frank I may go into it later, but in just about every situation where a battle was concerned, God rejected large numbers (Gideon stands out) and instead commanded unorthodox method involving only a few people. He seems to be saying that he gets no glory out of large numbers of people. I know that is debatable in some cases.

    Another example: Duet 7

    6For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

    7The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:

    8But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

    Read the entire chapter for context.
    Thanks for your comments.

  4. Mega churches are the abnormality. Most churches in the US are less than 100 people. Many or few are not the mark of GOD’s approval. Being conformed to his image is. A mega church that does not live up to its potential to make a “GO” impact in the city or township in which they reside is doing less than a small church that is faithful is running their food/clothes outreach with the dinner sprovided where they preach the gospel. The one mega church I know in my city has to have the cell groups as a way to disciple and relate to people. If not it doesn’t work well. Accountability can be lost in a very large church .

    Lastly, (for now) There seems to be an insensitivity of the mega church leaders who tend to invalidate the very valuable ministries of small church pastors and and their flocks by “stealing” their staff and people without attempting to build relationships with the other churches in the area like resource assistance, people, training, etc. The mega church becomes a business first and ministry is a secondary thing to keeping the business expanding. Small churches can be just as off the mark as large ones. The issue for me is the hearts of the leaders and the church remaining true to the truth of the gospel.

    Rewards will be given in Glory for faithfulness and obedience to the call of GOD. They won’t be given based on size of congregation. DId you make disciples? Did you preach the Truth? Did you win people to your Cult of Personality? Did you tickle the people’s ears? Did you leave a monument dedicated in your name? Were you available to the people as a shepherd/teacher? Did you visit them in their afflictions? Did you hold the largest conferences in the region? Did you rub elbows with the great leaders of your day? Which questions do you think may be more in line at the Judgement Seat of Christ? Selah.

  5. I agree that the mega church model appears to be an unbiblical one.

    From Acts 2, “41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

    42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

    43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.

    44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;

    45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

    46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,

    47praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. ”

    How does a mega church know who among them have needs? How can everyone in a mega church be of one mind? How can a mega church go from house to house?

    I believe that the Lord used persecutions, imprisonments, martyrdoms, & the Great Commission to prevent the establishment of mega churches. The ones here in MN seem like their own separate city with programs of all kinds, & they seem a little cultish. I would think that Mega church pastors would find it impossible to properly care for their flock. I’m thankful that I attend a church where my pastors not only know my name, but the names of my husband, children, parents & siblings because I have a personal relationship with them.

  6. How timely. I was just talking with my barber about something like this today (he’s also a Christian). I basically said how I don’t really enjoy going to churches and events with “lots and lots” of people. I find it very distracting; sometimes even phobic and uncomfortable. I love the Lord and all, but I simply don’t enjoy swelling crowds anywhere; I guess it’s how I’m “wired.” An internationally prominent minister is preaching at a mega church in my area tonight; but I chose not to go because of the large crowds. I know it will be standing room only. I suppose I’m just not meant to be part of a megachurch; neither am I into popularity and personality like that any more; you know, the latest preacher with “a word,” the “happening” gospel music artist, group, or choir, etc. I’m on a quest to get to know Jesus Christ in the purest way possible, without all the glitz and glamor. Megachurches can seem impersonal at times, and I have encountered a few of the “servants” (i.e., ushers, security, maintenance) in such churches and found some (but not all) to be very arrogant in their attitudes and their positions; the humbleness was lacking.

    If any more scandals breakout in the big churches, there may be an emptying out of thes arena-sized buildings. Maybe that is what the scriptures refer to when it mentions, “…a great falling away…” to come, found in 2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2, verse 3.

  7. Re – the mega church model: I really don’t know what that “model” is exactly, so I can’t really can’t say if it is biblical or not. I would agree that the numbers (pews being filled) and the notion that if “it works” so it must be Biblical or “good” are irrelevant to the Truth of God’s word. I think the “mega church” mentailty is driven by a consumer driven gospel – The “self” has become King, and the source of Truth – God, is left on the side lines as the church leaders adjust their teachings to meet the consumer’s needs.

    I think you said it quite well Pastor – it indeed turns into a spiritual soupline – and sadly there are many willing “pimps” to feed the masses with an inoffensive man made “gospel”. It’s a theology that follows the world’s lead and thus grace and judgement become utterly irrelevant.

    No wonder so many are confused – so few even have a clue to what Holiness even means anymore. Folks will just pick a really big soupline, ’cause if it’s really big – somebody must be serving some really “good” soup – eh?

    Once again – I want to thank you for your work here, it is truly a blessing! You do “mega” good here! 🙂 and your “soup” is indeed served with the bread of life!

  8. Good article, Pastor Foster. One of my earliest posts was about this very subject.

    The bottom line (in my not so humble opinion) is that the modern day mega church (or Christianity, Inc. as I like to call it) simply serves as a conduit to bloat the ego of the Senior Pastor Pimp. Once they see how they can grow a congregation by entertaining them rather than feeding them, then they began to do whatever it takes to protect their revenue stream. It’s interesting how when Christ spoke He drove the masses away so that only the remnant would remain to hear His Word. Yet today, the wolves are driving the remnant away (and to blogs like this) so that the deceived can hear the wolve’s word.

    Have mercy, Lord.

  9. Pastor Foster,

    I strongly disagree and I say this with much humility. I think that it is these Preachers who will be the ones who will deliver you and I to the authorities once we get closer to the end times which is fast approaching. The Bible speaks of having our own family members turning on us. We are the ones on the narrow path which is synonymous with few numbers VS the wide path of the many. We are seeing the secularization of the mega churches right before our eyes. We see the unholy alliances with Government. We see them embracing abominable sins.

    No my friend the mega Church will not dwindle. The mega church will be a proxy between the govt. and the people. Every tyrannical regime ALWAYS used the Church/religious entity as a propaganda arm of the govt. In fact, would you like to see a snap shot of the coming end times right around the corner? Click below.

    Please Pastor Foster don’t take this lightly nor discount it as conspiracy theory. I say this only to warn the people. Remember that the Babylonian system in the end times is also a religious system.


  10. Well let me ask anyone, how much is too much?

    When is a church too big for one pastor to handle?

    Or is that even a valid question biblically?

  11. Regarding your questions, I think it is important to remember, Christ promised to build His church, it is not up to us – Matthew 16:18.

    Second – if a Pastor is preaching correctly (IMHO), it is those in his care that will know and understand that it is they that are responsible for helping one another. I think the Pastor’s authority is first derived from God and thus sets forth the doctrine. The size becomes less important if the folks are submitting to God’s word and not their own “pet social concerns”.

    I think Kyle voices an important historic concern – when ever the church and state get “married” – the church has always been made the whore! I rest assured God is still governing – it is God who put Obama in the White House (to my own distgust), and it is God who still Rules – even in the midst of apostacy. The saints may indeed witness and live through what Kyle is saying – a church building a social gospel, thus God’s judgement and Truths will become irrelevant. Nevertheless – man and govt alike may kill our flesh – but we will live eternally with our Lord and Savior.

  12. I believe the church here in America will not see a major push to purity until we have seen some true persecution. The purpose of the existence of this site will ensure that that persecution happens along with many other issues emerging shortly.

    I am hoping that the coming financial crisis (it is now hear and I am certain it will worsen) will reveal the flaws in the prosperity gospel. If the economy of the nation makes an impact on the people’s purse strings they will not be able to support the ideas and missions of the men that exploit them. Perhaps that may thin out the masses at the religious clubs that pass for churches.

    I think churches that have to have 4 and 5 services that are rushed (I’ve neen to several like that) or when you have been a member for a chrch for 10 years and so has your neighbor and you have never seen each other there (true story) it is TOO BIG! Just my opinion.

  13. Mark,

    Spot on Bro! The Pimps in the mega churches have no problem lauding over Presidents, seeking the praise of men, taking your money via the false prosperity gospel, claiming the gift of prophecy in order to manipulate you into giving more money, and false healing’s. And you know what? People flock to it like lemmings off a cliff.

    Now is there some validity to what is being said regarding the Mega Churches losing members? Absolutely! But, those are true bible believing Christians who will “come out of her”. The rest and the consequently the majority will stick around and the apostasy will only grow stronger.


  14. the mega church isn’t going to die out. It is tied into the government and with people like TD Jakes who the government likes and pushes and approves of to the masses of the people. They love TD Jakes and he will continue to deceive the people with his books he didn’t write and his movies and his acting WOW!!!!!!!!. I ask the question, “Why would anyone who has been called to preach the gospel want to become an actor?” What does that have to to with teaching the word of God. Many have been deceived by him and many of the other fake preachers who have sold their souls to the devil for profit. Joel Osteen is another one who they have pushed to the forefront to deceive the people with his smile. He is a smooth operator.

  15. I believe that it is the fruit of the church, not it’s size that determines whether or not a church is walking in biblical truth. Now that being said, unfortunately alot of churches have received “mega” status because of the leadership’s devotion to marketing, watering down the Gospel, and catering to itching ears rather than standing strong on the Word. Though that seems to be becoming more of the norm these days, I still do not believe that it is impossible to have a large church without compromising the Word and the works that the Word says we should produce. It’s just that many pastors have begun to trust more in crafty plans to “reach” people, rather than relying on the Word to draw people. Thousands of people would come to hear Jesus speak without any marketing at all on his part. The Word worked then, and it still works today. I believe that there are people out there who are serious and hungry for the Word, and that a large church could be started and maintained on the Word alone. The question is which would be better to find in a city? A few large churches where the people all fellowship together, hear the pure Word of God and are taught to put it into practice. Or 20 small churches on the same street (which you will find in Newark, NJ) which are in competition with each other and really don’t do much to affect the environment. It’s the fruit that counts, not the size.

  16. Ed,

    Your comment reminded me of something I heard years ago:

    “The problem with too many churches is that they spend too much time entertaining the goats, instead of feeding the sheep.”

    I heartily concur with that statement.

  17. Jesus also had many who came to hear him speak and to eat of the fish and the loaves. They were the crowds. When he began his teachings (hard sayings) the crowds thinned out. There is the crowd, the followers and the disciples. Not everyone in the Mega church (or small church either for that matter) are real followers of Christ. Even fewer ar disciples. Wheat and tares bretheren, wheat and tares. Discipleship has a cost; Discipline and obedience. Most folk are running from that in the church. They belong to the “The Lord knows my heart group.” THe continue in the same ol’ way of life and promise they’ll get it together one day. Many of the mega pastors are promising fish and loaves; prosperity, no sickness, etc.

  18. Lets be realistic. Every Mega church is not going to hell because of it’s size and does not mean that they are preaching a gospel of Health, Wealth, and Properity. Yes there are some Mega church that are not doing things to Glorify God but there are small churches that do the same thing.

    Think about it. How did a mega church get so large? No church starts out with 10,000 members they start small and then grow. What is wrong with a God lead church out growing its four walls in order to allow for more people to be apart of what God has blessed. For example look at your church, Say it started with 50 members then expands to 100 then 500 then 1500 and so on. It would crazy to not expand as people begin to join the ministry in order to allow them to be apart of what God is doing.

    I belong to a large church that teaches directly from the word of God, not about how to proper and get rich but how to live a Holy and Spirit lead life and survive the trials and tribulations that life throws at you. It is widely know that We do not support Homosexuality nor Gay marriage but we don’t turn people away and say you can’t come here because you are a homosexual either. If a homosexual never goes to church and heres the word of God preached then how can they get delivered.

    As far as the size of the church and how it relates to it’s members. we do have cell groups that make interacting with members easier so you do get to know people within the church. We have several associate pastors that can be called upon at anytime for what ever reason along with our pastor. I admit it is different then going to a small church where everyone know everyone and if that is what you perfer then go where you please. But I think it’s wrong to label mega churchs as some thing that is non biblical or not of God.

    As far as earlier comments about mega churches in the bible, It makes since to me that there would not be any larges churches after the reserrection because the church was persecuted. Think about it, Why did the 3000 that join on the day of pentecost disperce. If they crucified Jesus then waht do you think they would do anyone who openly followed him and preached the word of God. So naturally the multitude that was there on the day of pentecost would not have remained a large group. This in no way means tha todays mega churches are not biblical. Keep in mind that the bible gives a view of what happened when the church started but not a view as to how the church has grown.

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