Building bigger buildings for God?: exihibit A


Clearly, the post on the church and its entangling problems with building bigger buildings and money opened up some needed dialogue. Does God really need or want us to keep building bigger barns buildings and purchasing more property? Do you need a building to spread the gospel of Christ or to make disciples? Can you reach people without building a church-mega mall?

Some might think we are just complaining without merit, so let’s look at a real time example.
Watch this 11 minute video (please watch before you comment) of a Virginia church and take note of the justification the members and pastors give for building a bigger building. And then look at all the new “amenities” the church will have. Most, if not all are intentionally to bring in money to the church, hence my question are we creating a churchenstein and then justifying having to feed it or else? The promo sounds club-ish as in “join our church club, we’re full service”. I wonder if sinners care if a church has a weight room, bookstore and coffee house? At the end the man says “God is asking us to do it, so let’s step up and do it”.

One of the problems I had is that the millions of dollars spent on “reaching the community” actually don’t reach the community. My friend I’m Speaking Truth (a former member of Andre Landers church) brought this up when Landers had a “vision” to build God a $22 million church home. Then, Landers sent out threatening letters to members cause the money wasnt coming in to pay for God’s church home. After the big church was built, Landers hired big time gospel music industry worker Vashawn Mitchell. However, in the church’s zip code area (pop 5120) almost 900 families had lost their homes to foreclosure. I wonder would Landers open his church up to house these families on hard times? As you can see their only in the big 22 million dollar building twice a week.

I’m not putting this up to demonize Bishop Elect Lyle Dukes. I have worked with him in the past and he is a good man so please no personal attacks on him. But even good men can get caught up in this system. I couldnt help but notice that Pastor Dukes’ denomination is promoting him to bishop. Is that because he’s building this huge church which by the way has nothing to do with the qualifications of a bishop.


21 thoughts on “Building bigger buildings for God?: exihibit A

  1. Because I don’t know Mr. Dukes, I can’t comment on him anyway. But my question and concern with this as with every mega-church facility is:

    1) Salvation – How many people are actually saved of the 3000 parishioners (just a hypothetical figure)?
    a. If there are 3000 parishioners and only 1000 are saved, what is going on there? Don’t get me wrong, it can be the same equation at a medium or small church setting. But I believe it’s even more so true with mega churches because of their sizes. A large percentage of people go to “church” because we’re suppose to go on Sundays and a very large percentage go to “church” to be entertained.

    2. The Great Commission – Is there the discipleship counseling training available so that others(and especially men) can be taught, trained, and tested/proven….
    a. …so that they can go out and make disciples of men and eventually start a fellowship somewhere else in their neighborhoods where the “membership” isn’t so big and all can be taught, all can be trained, all can be counseled, etc.

    For me, these two issue/questions take precedent over a bigger building or larger facility because they minister to the people and the people aren’t ministering to the welfare of the cause, i.e. the building fund for larger facility.

    2 Timothy 2: 2 – “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

  2. Well as has been said in previous posts, many people that go to Mega Churches came from other Churches.Church becomes some kind of an outing or event in these mega churches, People will say, “you been to Lakewood before? WOW!”, as if God does not show up in their smaller local church.

    One of my concerns is are the people “IN” the church being ministered to? can they go and ask if they fall on rough times? are their people in the Church who are having a hard time and if so what is being done about it?

    What about new converts? are they truly discipled? and I dont mean a discipleship class, is someone assigned to that individual?

    I ask because I know in Big churches the one sheep that gets saved often goes unnoticed.

  3. Pastor Foster,

    What’s happening spiritually with Pastor Dukes and CoPastor Deborah Dukes and Harvest LifeChangers Church International is the result of the Leaven of the MegaFest(Pharisees!) Let me explain.

    I know Pastor Lyle Dukes and CoPastor Deborah personally(not intimately) and a few sincere hearted members who support and attend that church faithfully(spirit, soul, body(sweat and tears, not blood-LOL), and financially). I saw firsthand this church explode in growth from meeting every Sunday at Potomac High School to the current building they purchased(a very, very nice one!).

    I visited and attended on and off over 10 years ago and was recruited strongly to join, but the SPIRIT forbid me not(…long story). I even remember personally having a one on one conversation with Pastor Dukes before they “BLEW UP”. The LORD HIMSELF gave me a dream where I saw them(Harvest) in their own building and I shared this with him. He even told me, “I receive that.” That dream did come to pass…BUT, the dream I saw WAS nothing in comparison to the size of the blueprint they are intending to build.

    Now, the Dukes live, preach, and teach holiness. I repeat, Pastor Dukes and Co-Pastor Lyle Dukes live, preach, and teach holiness. They do exemplify truth……They are dogmatic about that.

    BUT, and a BIG BUT…where I believe this current vision or empire is coming from is being associated with some of the guest “BIGTIME IN THE EYES of men” preachers(Pimps) that they have had come and “preach, prophesy, and ANOINT” to themselves personally and to their people when they got to “Mini Mega status! No telling how much money they got into the coffers having these BIG DRAWS…Draw meaning THEATER terms! A list of the names are Jakes, Long, and Paul Morton(I can’t call him a pimp yet,I don’t know???) and some of the female preachers that have come to them, one of them is Cheryl Brady…and the list goes on and on! I saw the Dukes sitting in the front row of the last MegaMess in Atlanta! I knew then they were DEEP in the MATRIX!

    The LORD told me when I started coming out from under PIMPAGE(short form Pimp Bondage, LOL) 5 years ago doing the conference hopping thang and sowing “seeds” to get financially blessed …I got yoked spiritually because of “WHO LAID HANDS on me” and what I was eating spiritually! I still have a little PIMP residue that I am crying out to GOD to deliver me from! Amen. But I know I am free and no longer under bondage! Hallelujah!

    So as outsider who knows people on the inside(…Pastor Foster, I had this conversation with Brother Speaking Truth last year about my former best friend who is on the inside of this ministry(I did not disclose it at the time), and I knew he was getting PIMPED….and personally, I believe the Dukes are getting PIMPED by their organization(Bibleway), The Word Network, Association with Pimps…It’s a spiritual principal, what comes on the head flows to the body! I know this personally!) Amen.

    The Dukes and their church, Harvest…are in the MATRIX(system).

    !!!!!This is the GOD’s Honest truth, I prayed to the LORD last year concerning this “vision” because I know this is the work of man and not the work of GOD!!!!!I hope they(the Dukes) read this! There is a MORE THAN sufficient building ALREADY BUILT not even 1 mile from where there current edifice IS! They have used this building in the past and they still are using it when they have a big draw! IF THEY HAVE THE FAVOUR that they claim to have, JUST RENT the Hylton Memorial Chapel…NEGOTIATE a FAVORABLE LEASE that will not put them under MORE BONDAGE and use their current edifice for office/christian school, daycare…They own their current edifice.

    WHY PAY over $100 million dollars(once everything is said and done with interest, costs overruns, overhead, etc, etc.) when GOD already has a place built for them?

    Besides, thus saith the HOLY GHOST…the true church in America WILL GO UNDERGROUND! When, don’t know…BUT BE YE READY! Because, these churches that put their sheep into debt and when the tribulation comes, YOU BETTER BE DEBT FREE and besides BANKS CAN CALL A LOAN ANYTIME they want too! GIVE ME MY MONEY!
    …Wicked men will come after you and throw you into prison…JESUS SAID that and I will quote this scripture…

    28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
    29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. *********THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN to people who are in over their heads with debt during the Tribulation*****
    31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
    32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

    Brother Lyle and Sister Deborah Dukes,
    DO NOT GO INTO DEBT! The Borrower is SERVANT(SLAVE!!!) to the LENDER! If you are the head and not the tail that you proclaim and believe you and your people ARE…then YOU ARE TO LEND and NOT BORROW!!!!

    Signed with the love and compassion of CHRIST JESUS, Our LORD and SAVIOUR,

    Elder Grover W. Stephens, Jr. AKA EnochWalked

  4. Great article, gcmwatch. Point of full disclosure, Landers built a $22M church, not $2.1M – and that figure ballooned from an earlier quote of (and pledges towards) $17M. As was noted by another commenter – most mega’s pull members from other mega’s (or churches) so it’s not evangelism, it’s circular membership retention. I’m not against mega’s per se (John MacArthur, John Piper and others pastor large congregations, and I admire these men greatly), but unless the pastor is prepared to REALLY shepherd a large flock, folks fall through the cracks.

    Even worse, many who build these monuments to their ego often retreat further into the fortress instead of sending even more out to do the work of the ministry within a 2 mile radius of the monument. As EW said above – how can we truly “honor God” by going into debt bondage to celebrate buildings that can’t contain His glory?

    GCMW: Thx for the correction IST. Its been changed. And, uh…WOW!

  5. Oh, and another thing – False Bishop TD Fakes will be showing up to Landers’ club in September for a special service. You know the drill: pay Jakes’ $100K appearance fee plus agree to split the “special offerings” take with him, and the church will bring in 2-3 times revenue in 1 night (and you KNOW I know the deal as I’ve been privvy to it in my “former life”).

  6. whoa, that’s a mouthful…I can remember two years ago, cringing when I heard my pastor at a church (when I was going to college), say that his spirtual father was bishop so-and-so from T.V.; he didn’t want his spiritual father to be no small-time preacher–God expected us to do greater and greater.
    He goes on to say that his church was aspiring to be like eddie long’s with a sprawling campus.

    I was quite annoyed; because the only reason I attended the church when they were first meeting in colleges and other people’s church facilities was because the demonstration of God’s spirit would be so great…

    I think many ministries start off with good intentions–we want to make something nice for God…but with a little time and all this peer pressure (truth is that you never leave high school behind) from the mega-bishops and mega-churches (lust of the eye and pride of life), the monument to God becomes the monument to man.
    The only reason I go to any church is because: the anointing, sound teaching, and love evidenced at the church.

    I agree gcmwatch, why would any unsaved person care that you have a coffee shop, library, and gym in your church–when there’s a perfectly good one down the street; the den of thieves that jesus so strongly decried has now became the den of entertainment, the den of comfort, the den of recreation instead of just being the house of prayer…something so simple.

    I honestly, think that the bigger buildings and funding programs are always a front/cover for something that is lacking in that ministry or will be lacking in the ministry…just a bunch of activity that if energies were re-directed would make for something more useful


    The reason MANY MEGA SHEPHERDS will not, do not, and CANNOT preach against SIN and PREACH AGAINST this wicked Culture is because THEY ARE BOUND-UP in the MATRIX.

    These mega shepherds ARE NOT WILLING TO LOSE IT ALL for CHRIST! JESUS came to set us FREE from the world and its influences and yokes! HE called a spade a spade no matter who it was!

    A RELEVANT LESSON that APPLIES TO ALL OF US LIVING RIGHT NOW… is when GOD gave victory to Abraham to rescue Lot, there was a bounty or spoils from the victory…but this bounty/spoils WERE FILTHY LUCRE!!!!

    What did the father of our faith Abraham SAY, Genesis 14:21-23KJV
    21And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

    Question: Now how many in American Christendom today, would follow this example???????? And didn’t our LORD & SAVIOUR say that the Last Days would be like the days of LOT???????????????

    Wake Up Saints! Wake Up In JESUS NAME!

  8. Pastor Foster…this is for you and I am led to this!

    FATHER, I praise THEE and Give YOU all the Honor and Glory due YOUR NAME!
    LORD bless D.L. Foster, his wife, his children, and his ministry mightily for being Ezra/Nehemiah to the Church(one body) that is rebuilding the walls and foundations…because YOUR Holy Word says CHRIST JESUS is the FOUNDATION along with the prophets and apostles’ doctrine!

    And when GOD gives me HIS financial release…not man’s…I promise to remember you sir BECAUSE I want to thank GOD and thank you for being obedient to the HOLY GHOST and giving true voices a stage where JESUS’ little ones can preach(!).

    In the NAME of the LORD JESUS CHRIST of Nazereth,
    I rebuke every counter attack and blasphemy that will try to come against the LORD’s anointed who have spoken the truth, who have cried aloud, and spared not! Satan, the BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST of Nazereth is AGAINST YOU! I tear down every stronghold and curse every weapon and every dart from the enemy’s camp that will try to silence the truth!

    In the NAME of the LORD JESUS CHRIST of Nazereth I pray!

  9. “These mega shepherds ARE NOT WILLING TO LOSE IT ALL for CHRIST! JESUS came to set us FREE from the world and its influences and yokes! HE called a spade a spade no matter who it was!”

    Could the IRS Code 501(c)(3) have anything to do with the ability of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

    I watched the video before responding and must say that I’m not impressed as others are. I’m a person that believes that the felt needs of the people must be met, for them to be equipped to reciprocate it to others (paying it forward). And the thing with the bookstores, for me as pastor I would feel the need to know what the book is about in order to endorse it, because it’s too much error out there.

    That food court has them coming and going!

  10. I swear I was waiting on them to announce co-ed dorms during the facilities description.

    Honestly, I have no problem with large church facilities and such, but what I do have an issue w/ is saying that it’s God ordained and using God as the springboard for your own prideful pursuits. The excuses given for the need of such facility were so base and immature. So now, after that large building is built, there’s going to be a constant building fund until Jesus comes back! All those lights, air conditioning, heat, water, etc., has to be paid….and that money will be shaken from the pews. Whatever happened to the community of the lost being ministered to or those within the walls truely being discipled.

    When did saving lost souls become so complicated and showy? Where was I when that season started…? And why are black churches the only churches “GOING TO ANOTHER LEVEL?” all the time…

  11. Wow, bigger buildings, billions of dollars and mega egos.
    The article should have been titled America’s biggest adult day care facilities.

    Among the fears of Ed Young Jr., pastor of Fellowship Church in the Dallas area, No. 7 on the list of largest megachurches, and gaining on his father at Second Baptist, is the financial accounting of growth that comes with mergers and added campuses. And he wonders if megachurches are “just taking people from other churches because we have a cooler church.”

    You dont really want to know the answer to that question do you Ed? If you did you wouldnt keep doing mergers and aqcuistions(sp).

  12. WOW!

    4 of the top 10 are here in Texas (I live in Dallas, by the way). I know the south has some old and long money, but God in Heaven! And I agree with you on Ed Young’s supposed fear, GCM. He’s speaking as if all of his 20,000+ members came directly off the streets!!!

  13. charzetta3, have you been to the Potter’s house before?

    “He’s speaking as if all of his 20,000+ members came directly off the streets!!!”

    I heard a Pastor speak a message about “sheep stealing”, maybe this is “sheep going to (supposed) bigger greener pastures”

  14. charzetta, they can claim all they want to be “reaching the world for Christ”. The proof is in the pudding with the “mergers” and such. Big means success to them and that the goal they are working towards.

    And although no statistics are kept on just who is a sinner off the street and those who are church redirected church folk, I would say the majority are the latter. Warm bodies in the seat while Young and the other hirelings use the numbers for vain self glory.

    But the numbers are only a byproduct of the real issue. Getting those big buildings and buying property cost and they need the sheeple to fork up the mammon in order to do it all.

    And I come back to my question: why is this needed?

  15. All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I wonder what the Lord thinks about this Mega-Church.
    I was watching Bishop-Elect Dukes on TV the other day, and from what I saw, he doesn’t even have 2000 people in the worship center he has now. And what is he going to do with the old worship center. Sale it?

    I guess the church is BIG Business
    Maybe I will write to him and see if he can offer a stimulus offering to my family, or some other family that is lacking here in Ohio.

  16. Sorry so late…..

    Paul N:
    No, I haven’t been to The Potter’s House. My wife’s cousins came down from Minnesota to visit and they went there to see what it was about. I don’t know how true it is, but they said that they had to fill out visitor forms which took about an hour to do and they had so many Q&A sheets including questions about their income that they decided to just leave.

    More money for bigger building – NOT NEEDED!!! If true evangelism is that successful, one of the assistant pastors (or whatever title they may have) should start a ministry somewhere in the same city, community, neighborhood, or even in a nearby city. There where plenty of christian fellowships in the same area in the word of God mentioned by Paul.

  17. GCM

    I know the post is “the funk of 40,000 years” old, but First Baptist Church of Dallas, under the leadership of Robert Jeffers (whose teaching I really like), is getting ready to construct another building right beside the current building they occupy for the amount of 130 million dollars.

    Again, I believe if growth is that significant and saving souls is the “dream” (as he said in his interview), then use the 130 million dollars to construct smaller buildings in OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS or COMMUNITIES in the city or metroplex, send your TRAINED and ABLE assistants to those other buildings to pastor and influence lost people to Christ’s salvation.

    And although I’m not putting Robert Jeffers on the same level of pulpit pimps and WOF goons with mega-churches, this is no different than what they do. 130 million dollars can do a LOT of good for the true christian community. But to erect another edifice to attract people is off.

  18. I think there’s a smarter way to do it. Now if the people keep coming, you can’t stop that, even if they’re coming from another church. Yes, they may be coming because they can “blend in” and not be accountable at the mega ministry, but that’s not always the case and it’s unfair to assume that it is. But with churches as large as Harvest Life Changers, there should be capable men that are able to be sent out to establish daughter churches in other areas of the region (in this case, northern Virginia) in order to capture the overflow and reproduce within the region. And instead of building massive facilities from scratch, with all of these big box stores that are empty, you could renovate one for much cheaper and still have the needs of the congregation met; several churches across the country have done this successfully.

  19. I read an article not too long ago about a church selling its building, buying storage space for the extra stuff and renting a hall for service, but using the money to go out into the community to meet needs and evangelize. I said, huh….YA THINK!!! Even pastors with dwindling memberships will talk big about renovations and additions, like that will bring people in or make them stay, but they unable to heat the sanctuary (and want money to go to Memphis) and move service to the chapel. Somewhere it definitely got twisted.

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