Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the cult of celebrity that makes up so much of modern life. It came home to me this week when my five-year-old niece announced that one of the Jonas Brothers is a diabetic and one of her relatives has the same condition. Five years old and she knows this? And relates it to her own life??
Our churches aren’t immune to the cult of celebrity either. But are mega-ministries helping or harming the cause of Christ?
I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile, but someone else beat me to it. Here’s an article worth reading: Famous Christianity.
In addition to the problems he mentions, one of the biggest problems with megachurches is churchgoers often become like fans. A pecking order develops in congregations based on how well people know the pastor. The focus becomes the promotion of the celebrity preacher and the celebrity church rather than promoting the Kingdom.
If the megachurch continues for a decade or two, it becomes a subculture in itself — often quite provincial — that begins to overestimate its clout, particularly in the political arena. I believe the debacle of ‘Christian’ support and the failure of the Republican party in the past presidential election is a good example.
Another problem in megachurches is the loss of real community. People can come and go in a megachurch and never be noticed, never connect, never be a part of ministry that is taking place. In a megachurch one must be assertive (if not aggressive) to even be noticed, which sidelines gifted people who are introverted or reflective.
And then there’s the problem of public perception. How many of the public slams against Christianity are actually reactions against mega-Church-ianity? The small local church, the one faithfully serving its community, responding to emergencies, caring for the sick and dying, will never change public opinion or even be noticed on the national radar.
I take comfort in remembering Jesus changed the world with only twelve.