Sunday, December 02, 2007

Where I agree with a mega church...sort of.

Wow.   
This video's content was not surprising to me, but the source was.  Willow Creek is one of the biggest mega churches in the U.S.  That they would come right out and share, in a sincere desire to (hopefully) do things better, is admirable.  Do they really get that the programs of the institution (of any kind, not just the religious kind) can never equal the power of real relationship? 
 My own experiences in the institutional church have taught me a few things.   
 
-Small is better-for me.


-Pastors who depend on congregational giving to feed their families eventually decide to choose big over small.  
 
-Bigger is not neccessarily more effective at encouraging real disciples; those who love God and other people, and act accordingly, without compulsion. (What I see as faith with works). 

-A lot of "relationships" formed in institutional settings are very shallow; based a lot more on the fact that we are in the same physical space than that we are connected in any deep, meaningful way.  (School friends, whom I knew for years but after graduation have lost contact with as we have nothing in common, fall into this category.)
 
-I need relationships, not for accountability, but for love, my deepest need, which is a reflection of the God who has called me His own. 

-Eventually people become dissatisfied with that which does not work (more programs; which take more time and cost more money), and they go looking for it somewhere else. Often at the new mega church down the road.

-Those who can build the new mega church can attract all these dissatisfied people to their institution...at the expense of the smaller churches in the community. 

-I hesitate to add..."and the cycle continues", but as this is just my opinion, I can say whatever I want and you can just call me cynical if you disagree.  

Am I cynical?  Am I reactive?  Am I part of the problem, rather than part of the solution?  Honestly, I don't know.  But I do know that my faith is becoming more and more to be attributed to the person of God, and not to a desired outcome of my choosing.  He, not me, is the author, and finisher of the whole thing.  

4 comments:

Karyn/Mom said...

Wow.  A mega church is "getting it"?  Surprising.  How, I wonder, are they addressing what they are "getting?"  Most important, I think....how are they helping those in the "stalled" group move out of that group and into the closer and centered groups?  These are obviously the people who are slipping through the cracks of the institution.  The two "c" groups are doing fine - in or out of the church.  The two bottom groups are being reached.  What is being done for the stalled group?  That is, in my experience, the largest group of all. 
As to your personal observations...
preach it!

Dawn said...

When you said ...
"-Pastors who depend on congregational giving to feed their families eventually decide to choose big over small."

I'm with you on this .. most of what you said. However, to be fair, I would point out that not ALL paid pastors sell out. The vast majority do, but not all. I am the child of one of those men. My Dad faithfully served the church, but he also grew a large garden and went hunting to feed us, when the church didn't pay enough.

I suspect today one could find a smattering of these kinds of pastors scattered mostly in rural areas in small churches. Big cities often equal big buildings with big mortgages and big salaries for the big pastor.

My two cents worth ...

arlene said...

Dawn,

You're right, there are no doubt many pastors who care more about helping people than about money. I was thinking about that after I posted. I decided to leave my comment as it stands, as I did add that this is my opinion.

Karyn/Mom said...

I agree with you, Dawn...there are several pastors in mine and my husband's families who are like your dad. However, they are a dying breed. In speaking with a cousin who is my age and who has been a pastor of a fairly large church, he indicates that they are "taught" to think in the direction that the people/church provides for them and for their retirement - as opposed to GOD providing for them. Maybe this is the difference in the older generation preachers and the new.