I will not spend too much time talking about the mainstream churches that teach the Gospel, have normal size churches that have mainstream (or at least use to be) contemporary worship and follow the main guidelines of Scripture. What I will focus on are the changes that have taken place and how many churches have drastically altered their way of teaching, worshipping, and structuring their church experience for both the believers and the non-believer.
One of the main objectives of church leaders of today is to get people in the door. If they can get them in the door then they can entertain them, show them that church can be fun and not boring. And the church does not have to be condemning. Things like sin, repentance, consequences and the like are seldom mentioned. If they can get them in the door and present a gentle Gospel they will come back and then the pastors have “got them.” Read below some of the ways people are lured to church.
Methods of how to get people in the door
Pastor Lawrence Bishop II, of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio, was willing to be bruised and trampled by a bull named Bonecrusher in order to spread the gospel. The “cowboy pastor” transformed his church into a bull ring on a recent Wednesday night, ABC reports. Bishop managed to hold on to the raging bull for about three seconds before being bucked to the ground. Then he climbed onto the stage and gave a sermon. After this wild ride, at least 300 new believers responded to Bishop’s altar call and were baptized that night.
In an effort to reach un-churched “rednecks,” the Kentucky Baptist Convention hosted “Second Amendment Celebrations,” during which churches served steak and gave away guns as door prizes. Chuck McAlister, a former pastor and traveling evangelist who presided over the events, called his strategy “affinity evangelism” because it used a common interest to attract potential converts and turn them into a community. The tactic reportedly brought more than 1,500 men to make “professions of faith” in 2013. “You have to know the hook that will attract people and hunting is huge in Kentucky,” McAlister told USA Today. “So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff.”
There are hundreds of churches across the country that is incorporating MMA fights into their men’s ministries, according to documentary filmmakers Bryan Storkel and Daniel Junge. Some churches offer fight viewings, while others host bloody MMA battles on church property. Even though Jesus instructed his disciples to “turn the other cheek” rather than use violence, some pastors look to the mythical fighting prowess of biblical leaders like David and Samson as examples. In a trailer for the Storkel and Junge’s 2014 film, “Fight Church,” one pastor explains, “We’ll just be a couple of God-fearing men punching each other in the face.”
PATTY ANDERSON and her husband, Gary, found faith where they least expected it — he on the free-throw line and she swathed in sweats in an aerobics class. It happened at the 50,000-square-foot activities center of the Southeast Christian Church here, where pumping iron and praising the Lord go hand and hand. Amenities at the gym include 16 basketball courts and a Cybex health club, free to churchgoers, where the music is Christian and the rules ban cursing even during the crunch. It is possible to eat, shop, go to school, bank, work out, scale a rock-climbing wall and pray there, all without leaving the grounds.
In Glendale, Ariz., the 12,000-member Community Church of Joy, which has a school, conference center, bookstore and mortuary on its 187-acre property, has embarked on a $100 million campaign to build a housing development, a hotel, convention center, Skate Park and water-slide park, transforming itself into what Dr. Walt Kallestad, the senior pastor, calls a ”destination center.”
Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Tex., has a youth center so elaborate that some have called it Preston World: 15 ball fields, 1950-style diner, and a fitness center, as well as classrooms and a 7,000-seat sanctuary. It is adding a $19 million school, coffee shop, food court, student ministry center, youth building, an outdoor prayer walk, a chapel, and an indoor commons, modeled on the idea of Main Street. ”We’re not a large church,” said Mike Basta, the executive pastor. ”We’re a small town.”
Some megachurches spend millions of dollars on their campuses, sound systems, lights, video technology, coffee shops, boutiques that sell just about everything. One church even has a MacDonald’s on their campus. They want to make your church visit a truly wonderful (and to bring you back) experience.
I think you get the message and I have not even touched on the charismatic and the name it and claim it outlandish venues that bring in tens of thousands of people every week.
Exploring the Mega church Phenomena:
Their characteristics and cultural context, by Scott Thumma, PhD. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/bookshelf/thumma_article2.html
Something For Everyone
The programs and specific ministries of megachurches are shaped by the context in which they reside. Yet even with the potential diversity of programs, one common characteristic underlies the efforts of all megachurches and that is choice.
A congregation of thousands encompasses many diverse tastes and interests which must be addressed. Not only does this need for choice affect the array of ministries offered, but it also influences the style of worship, preaching, and music exhibited in mega churches.
The Religious Reality
Megachurches likewise offer an organizational form that parallels much of the religious context of modern American society. Contemporary religion has been seen as characterized by new voluntarism. Persons are free to choose whether to be religious or not (Roof & McKinney 1987). If they do belong to a church, they are more likely to shop around for a congregation that “has what they want” and “feels comfortable” (Roof 1993:5; Hadaway 1993:349). Megachurches offer an institutional setting that may be familiar to church shoppers. In addition, they provide a plethora of choices that allow spiritual consumers to get all their family’s needs (spiritual, emotional, and recreational) met under one roof (Schaller 1992).
Why are mega-churches so popular?
Moreover, megachurches are well positioned to take advantage of economies of scale in the provision of religious as well as social services (Stonebraker 1993). Most offer
modern architecture and ample parking, book stores, cafes, and food courts, sports
facilities, recreational outlets, and ancillary services such as psychological counseling, religious education classes, choirs, day-care facilities, or youth outreach programs, and often broadcast on local public-access television stations (Fitzgerald 2007). Typically
they offer a welcoming environment that makes it easy for ‘‘seekers’’ to join.
In addition, megachurches offer a broad and agreeable religious message.
Many offers ‘‘toned down,’’ undemanding, multi-denominational approaches centered on positive spiritual, therapeutic messages rather than the guilt-laden doctrines characteristic of many traditional (especially Protestant) denominations. Services tend to the spectacular, with an impressive use of lights and electronic music rather than hellfire-and-brimstone preaching, and encourage casual dress codes, making attendance as much a social event as a spiritual one.