Friday, 3 May 2019

The Mega-Church Dystopia

False Claims, Enervated Hopes

The mega-church dystopia is finally dying off.  Not before time.  The unlikely marriage of secular doctrines of management and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ was never going to last.  The only question was how much damage would be done before the charlatans were exposed.

Mega-church ideology called for a syncretistic marriage between doctrines of management of a secular business, on the one hand, and the Church, on the other.  Since such a "marriage" is not found in the Scriptures, the only possible outcome would be a compromise of faith with worldly-wisdom.

Imagine what would have happened to the post-apostolic Church if an Empire wide synod concluded that the most successful organizational model was the Roman Legion.  The Church could really power ahead and overtake the Empire itself if it married the disciplines of the Legion to the teaching of the Lord Jesus.

If you think such a prescription bizarre and would be  doomed to failure from the outset, how much more the present mega-church mania has been doomed to failure.  It too will be inevitably consigned to the dust-bins of church history.

Os Guinness writes:
In today's convenient, climate-controlled spiritual world created by the managerial and therapeutic revolutions, nothing is easier than living apart from God.  Idols are simply the ultimate techniques of human causation and control--without God.

One Florida pastor with a seven-thousand-member megachurch expressed the fallacy well: "I must be doing right or things wouldn't be going so well."  One Christian advertising agent, who both represented the Coca-Cola Corporation and engineered the "I Found It" evangelistic  campaign stated the point brazenly: "Back in Jerusalem where the church started, God performed a miracle there on the day of Pentecost.  They didn't have the benefits of buttons and media, so God had to do a little supernatural work there.  But today, with our technology, we have available to us the opportunity to create the same kind of interest in a secular society."

Put simply, another church-growth consultant claims  "five to ten million baby boomers would be back in the fold within a month" if churches adopted three simple changes: (1.) "advertise"; (2.) let people know about "product benefits"; and (3) be "nice to new people".  [Os Guinness, "Sounding Out The Idols of Church Growth", No God But God: Breaking With the Idols of Our Age.  Edited by Os Guinness and John Seel, (Chicago: The Moody Press, 1992), p.159.]

Behold the mushroom of the mega-church.  Flourishing on day one; desiccated on day two, rotting on day three.  The twentieth century was supposed to be the Christian century.  Its boasted promise has failed to materialize.
. . . the century is ending, as Jacques Ellul says, in a situation closer to the saying of Jesus "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"  The problem is not that Christians have disappeared, but that Christian faith has become so deformed.  Under the influence of modernity, we modern Christians are literally capable of winning the world while losing our own souls.  [Ibid., p. 162.]
The head of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ; all the members of the Church make up His body.  If one were to attempt to put that organizational matrix upon any commercial enterprise, or any other human organization for that matter, they would fail dismally.  Therefore, in reverse, the marriage between the business corporation and the Church is doomed to a deformed failure.  And so it is coming to pass.

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