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Friday, August 19, 2011

Faith, Pastors and Megachurches

I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the most obvious current church-related headline:

I have read a few of the accounts, but I don’t plan to rehash that here. I have many of the comments. Much of the commenting has been focused on whether those people will lose their faith, now that their leader is: a) deceased, and b) seemingly has fallen from grace.


I don’t know what the standard definition of mega-church is, but to me it’s a church with over 1,000 regular attendees or congregants. I have only attended and never been a member of a church of this size or magnitude. I have however been to larger churches that have two to three services on Sunday, and maybe one or two on Saturday.

When I have had occasion to attend these churches for prolonged periods of time (up to 10 years), I frequently met people who I didn’t even know attended “my” church. This doesn’t really strike me as fellowship the way the New Testament intended it.

So my question is and has been:

How does this kind of fellowship make us different than the Optimists Club, the Elks Lodge, or any other club?

These megas seem to fall into one of two main categories.

The first seems focused on the personality and style of the singular charismatic leader, and never progresses beyond that point. The assumed plan of succession tends to involve other family members. The press has made much of what will happen to Pastor Tims' church, now that he is gone. Who will take his place? Will the church remain intact? Can it survive?

The second seems run a little less like a family business, with dad as the CEO. They have organizational structures that prepare future leaders; and seem more focused on the MISSION, and not so much on the MAN.


One of the recurring themes in the comments about Pastor Tims’ passing is, will these people lose their faith? One of the building blocks of the New Prosperity Gospel, besides a slot-machine God, seems to be that the prosperity and faith are linked to a particular person and/or edifice. So, the thinking is that once the person is gone, everything will fall apart and the people will scatter.

For instance, in Rev Shuller’s church, his children fight for control of the money, the building and ostensibly the people. In Bishop Long’s church, people stay or go, and remain confused. There are many other examples I could site, but I won’t.

The Book of Revelations calls the pastor’s of the seven churches angels. We may consider them different than most of us, but they are not angelic. And this is not meant as disrespect, but they are human, and subject to the same wrinkles, foibles and mis-steps that of with that condition.

Some people worship angels (and pastors for that matter), presenting yet another condition that should not exist. This makes an idol or a god is made out of something created by Another.


What is faith?
The writer of Hebrews (who is probably the Apostle Paul) gives us a definition:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1).

What are we to have faith in? We are to have faith in God, and faith in ourselves. Faith in Christ is faith in God, so we won’t split hairs. It’s part of that whole Trinity idea.

We can and should have a certain kind of faith in other people. We can have faith that they will or will not do what they say. Faith that they do love and / or care for us, or they do not. We have a certain kind of faith in others, but not the same as the faith to which God calls us.

Will the people at Pastor Zachery Tims' New Destiny Christian Center, Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, or Rev Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral lose their faith? I hope not.

They will not lose their faith if they have not lost their perspective and have not lost sight of the true prize.


Rev. Zachary Tims, RIP; our reward is not in this world.

Members of New Destiny Christian Center -

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Questions for you:

1. Will you leave your church if something happens to your favorite pastor?

2. Why are you at your particular church?

  • Learn

  • Teach

  • Make a difference

  • Be transformed

  • You are called here

  • Get your “holy checkmark” for the week

  • Political or business connections

3. Is your church a club for like-minded people or is it The Bride of Christ?


Bkangel said...

I'm @ my church to grow in my Christian Walk. That is the #1 reason! Will I leave if the current Pastor leaves, I can't answer that, will I leave b4 the current Pastor leave I can't answer that. I do know that the human side of me says that "I will not be a member of a stagnate church". I do know that I'm a soldier in God's army & I will go where he leads me.

Doc said...

I fully agree. We do not need to stay at stagnant churches. We are meant to grow, be transformed and help transform others.