Friday, January 25, 2013
Sociologically, the megachurch model faces real challenges in the present and even greater challenges in the future. The vast suburban belts that fueled megachurch growth in the last few decades are no longer the population engines they once were. Furthermore, cultural changes, demographic realities, and technological innovations have led to the development of megachurch modifications such as churches with multiple locations and sermons by video transmission. From the beginning, the megachurches led in the embrace of new technologies, and these now include the full array of digital and social media.
What about theology? This question requires a look at the massive shifts in worldview now evident within American culture. Trends foreseen by researchers such as James Davison Hunter of the University of Virginia and others can now be seen in full flower. The larger culture has turned increasingly hostile to exclusivist truth claims such as the belief that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. One megachurch pastor in Florida recently told me that the megachurches in his area were abandoning concern for biblical gender roles on a wholesale basis. As one pastor told him, you cannot grow a church and teach biblical complementarianism. Even greater pressure is now exerted by the sexual revolution in general, and, more particularly, the question of homosexuality.Mohler, of course, pursues this on the "theological point" of homosexuality. I look at it a little differently - there are future problems for mega-churches and it is not becasue of a specific theological point, it is because of all the stuff in the first paragraph, and the reason those things are a problem for the church is becasue they are what has defined the church.
I don't know if you have noticed or not, but the kind of demographic marketing used by megachurches is what you use to sell consumer products that are a) indistinguishable from their competition, and b) not as valuable as their price point and so one needs to create the impression of value. Does that sound like Jesus to you? Christ is both utterly unique and infinitely valuable.
Now if that last sentence is true, the problem must be in our reflection of Christ. Do you think it is helpful to use tools designed to move a very different type of product, or might it not be better to work on our reflection of the product?
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