Monday, January 25, 2010

Article: Mega Churches Mean Big Business

Here's an article at that discusses the money-making machines that are mega churches. A few quick quotes and then some salient observations:

Mega churches across the United States are becoming increasingly popular which is not only bringing thousands of worshippers together, but also billions of dollars in profit.

Scott Thumma, professor of sociology and religion at Hartford Seminary told CNN that "the mega church on average has about $6.5 million in income a year."

The Lakewood Church which [Joel] Osteen is in charge of has a yearly budget of more than $80million, but church officials deny that it's about money.

However, some critics argue that it's hard to be both a pastor and someone in charge of a yearly budget in the tens of millions.

You can read the entire article here.

The Scripture says that where words are many, sin is not absent (Proverbs 10:19), and I suspect the same can be said of dollars. Now, don't get angry with me - I don't mean to impugn any of these mega ministers, and I'm very well aware that sin can germinate when there is little money present.

I guess what I'm saying is that money carries with it a certain inherent danger - and there are plenty of Scriptures to back that up, with warnings about being pierced with many griefs and having your faith shipwrecked.

Then there's the more subtle warning in Proverbs 30:8-9 about how having an abundance of money can lead to forgetting God, and that's where my concern about these mega churches lies. It's just far too easy to abandon faith in the leading of the Holy Spirit and lean on slick marketing campaigns, demographic data, and sermons based on felt-needs polling.

And large attendance and financial success are not necessarily indicators of God's blessing. Just ask the Laodiceans . . .


Kristin said...

Wow, your last statement is particularly true in this society!

Ah, the trouble of forgetting THAT I agree with. I was really turned off by the "Purpose Driven Life" campaigns that went through churches I have attended in the past. I didn't understand why we spent more time reading man's word than we did reading God's Word. We'd read a few verses, then discuss our feelings on it. It never answered what others in my small groups wanted most - to know more about God, studying with someone so they could understand what they read.

I think I see where Simple Church got its start.

I think that, as a body of believers, we overcomplicate things and we try overmuch to recreate a circumstance in which we felt God's blessing - when we should be about achieving a brand new one.

Pastor Kip said...

Good comments, Kristin. You'll want to keep an eye out for my next post - it involves a non-Christian's view of Rick Warren's Saddleback Church. Very illuminating . . .