For MAINLINE Protestants: Do non-denominational mega-churches help or hinder growth for your church, in your 'territorial' area?


#1

By mainline I mean, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Reformed ect., the historical Protestant denominations.


#2

The big no denominational church near us draws ridiculous numbers on Sundays, when the full on Anglo Catholic Solemn Mass gets nothing like it. Dunno why. What I’m hoping is that these non denominational rock and roll churches introduce young people to Christ, and they then evolve into more traditional forms of worship as they get older.

What we need is more of a sense of mission and evangelism. These guys are always out there recruiting, where we are just hoping they notice us it’s a shame, because our music, theology and liturgy is so much more edifying.


#3

Great questions, and very difficult to answer. :slight_smile:

Perhaps mega-churches are doing a good job in reaching the ‘heathens’ out there, but for me, they are a troubling example of cheap religion. Also importantly for me, these mega-churches are perhaps influencing our own Lutheran worship. I sense there’s a few Lutheran churches that have gone ‘modern’ in response to the mega-churches.

All in all, I would say that a simplistic and easy form of Christianity is hindrance to all Christians who desire that all have full grace and a full church. I very well could be wrong though - perhaps eventually these Christians eventually seek out the full meal.


#4

You have put it much better than I could. I almost feel like many of these people end up not having a very sophisticated relationship with God, more resembling a teenage romantic infatuation. As such, I get the feeling that if they ever feel let down by him, they might just stop caring.

Overfamiliarity in the early stages of a relationship is rarely a good thing. When I see non denoms hugging pastors they barely know, I have to wonder whether they will even be speaking in six months. A stiff handshake does me fine.


#5

That is a hard question to answer. The mega-churches I know about in my area are Southern Baptist and Assemblies of God. The Mainline Protestant (MP) churches in my area are mostly in bad shape in terms of low weekly attendance and a very old average age. It seems to me that conservative young Christians are more comfortable at the mega church. As to why this is so I’m not sure. I think it has to do more with the passion you find at a mega church. The MP churches tend to make themselves irrelevant by what they preach which is often just the Social Gospel with complete inclusiveness for anything and everything except orthodox morality. I don’t think the mega churches are hurting the MP churches. I think the MP churches are hurting themselves.

I think you are right. A faith based on emotion is like any relationship based solely on emotion; it is on an unstable footing. But the passion is probably attractive precisely because so many MP churches have lost theirs. They have become liberal social clubs and I think a good many of the members don’t even believe what they pray in church. I think the mega church may have more sincerity even if that is just the sincerity of passion in the moment.


#6

This is a great answer, from a Lutheran POV! We even see within the LCMS the influence of the church-growth movement (Ablaze?), and “contemporary worship”. While its influence isn’t as bad or strong as that of Reformed (:eek:) influence within Lutheranism, it’s there.

Jon


#7

Almost without exception, the mainline Protestant churches in my city fully support gay marriage (and they perform “weddings” for homosexuals), woman clergy, and ABORTION RIGHTS. I have heard with my own ears sermons from pastors of these churches in which Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is questioned, as well as His sexual orientation, and also His stand on abortion (according to some, He would be pro-choice).

Obviously, I would love to see people become Catholic and enthusiastically attend a nice, reverent, liturgically-correct Mass, either the OF or the EF (both are available in my city).

But if people aren’t Catholic or won’t become Catholic, frankly, no matter how shallow the theology and no matter how lively the rock music, I I would much rather see people attend the pro-life, pro-male-female marriage, pro-literal resurrection of the Lord Jesus, non-denominational megachurch in my city (10,000 plus attend each week), or one of the very large Evangelical Protestant churches, than attend these evil mainline churches.


#8

There are, of course, other alternatives. Orthodoxy, Missouri Synod Lutheran, and some others. Otherwise, I would tend to agree with you.

Jon


#9

I realize that is the stereotype. And, as with all stereotypes there is some truth to it. But I’m not sure THAT is the reason MCs are popular or successful. Liberal churches are just as capable of creating MCs as well.
From what I saw on the other side of the Tiber was, as with many things, MONEY talks.
When I lived in a much larger city and was still an evangelical I remember several mainline Protestant churches in a certain section of town complaining thier memberships were dwindling because the local “mega-church” was stealing sheep.
And, IMHO, they had a right to complain.
These tiny Protestant mainline churches could not afford a “million dollar sound system” (actually heard a young dude who attends a local MC here brag about that once) nor the “hottest acts in town” with “closed circut TV” and internet streaming.
They had a modest choir with a piano and organ, they were not on TV with thier “dynamic preaching”, they taught the Word as best they could. The choir sang the best they could.
I felt so sorry for these men, they watched thier young people leave even though they had a youth group. They watched thier older people hang on as best they could until one day the doors closed.


#10

Cultural Marxism is rife in the historical Protestant denominations.

I will however say that the preaching I am exposed to is perfectly orthodox.


#11

The old mainline churches might be the richest in town. I know in my town the most liberal churches are the MP churches downtown. The wealthy established families go there and give plenty of money. Besides the old wealthy families going there plenty of current prominent businessmen go there. I don’t see money as the issue for those churches.

It might be different for the smaller churches. I’d add that the features you described are all ones that would exclude a church from my consideration. That seems more like entertainment, which is the highest priority in our culture.

It is sad. People do prefer growing and vibrant to that which is in decline. I can imagine a few problems for small protestant churches. One is that denominations don’t matter so much anymore. It seems to me that within protestantism denominations you have quite a bit of blending of beliefs from other denominations. Also it seems people used to go to neighborhood churches. Now with the way people move around so frequently the neighborhood church is probably as antiquated a concept as being a good, friendly neighbor. If church is now a destination then people might look for one based more on the facilities and programs it offers.


#12

Several years ago I encountered two churches here in rural WV, (so rural if you sped through the town you’d miss the town!) with a Baptist church and Methodist church. They both had a combined congregation of around thirty. I made the suggestion that maybe they should consider merging the churches.
Not even on the radar for them. Most of the people were over 50 and they didn’t want to give up thier historic buildings. Which I understand to an extent. But they all knew each other and was true example of what ‘neighborhood’ churches looked like.
In MCs people come from miles around and have no stake in the community. And those communities are dying.


#13

I would say no, as our pastor says the Holy Spirit works and when He wills. This what determines real church growth, not the flash in the pan of mega Evangelical churches which do not teach doctrine or teach only Law or preach the theology of glory that God wants you to be rich.


#14

[quote=JustaServant] Quote:

Originally Posted by exnihilo

It is sad. People do prefer growing and vibrant to that which is in decline. I can imagine a few problems for small protestant churches. One is that denominations don’t matter so much anymore. It seems to me that within protestantism denominations you have quite a bit of blending of beliefs from other denominations. Also it seems people used to go to neighborhood churches. Now with the way people move around so frequently the neighborhood church is probably as antiquated a concept as being a good, friendly neighbor. If church is now a destination then people might look for one based more on the facilities and programs it offers.

Several years ago I encountered two churches here in rural WV, (so rural if you sped through the town you’d miss the town!) with a Baptist church and Methodist church. They both had a combined congregation of around thirty. I made the suggestion that maybe they should consider merging the churches.
Not even on the radar for them. Most of the people were over 50 and they didn’t want to give up thier historic buildings. Which I understand to an extent. But they all knew each other and was true example of what ‘neighborhood’ churches looked like.
In MCs people come from miles around and have no stake in the community. And those communities are dying.
[/quote]

You do understand that Baptist and Methodist churches are very different. For them to merge one church or both would disappear in favor of the one with the strongest personalities.

Posted from Catholic.com App for Android


#15

[quote="benjohnson, post:3, topic:310513"]
Great questions, and very difficult to answer. :)

Perhaps mega-churches are doing a good job in reaching the 'heathens' out there, but for me, they are a troubling example of cheap religion. Also importantly for me, these mega-churches are perhaps influencing our own Lutheran worship. I sense there's a few Lutheran churches that have gone 'modern' in response to the mega-churches.

All in all, I would say that a simplistic and easy form of Christianity is hindrance to all Christians who desire that all have full grace and a full church. I very well could be wrong though - perhaps eventually these Christians eventually seek out the full meal.

[/quote]

I can't speak for Lutherans but in my area there is an Episcopal church that offers a guitar/piano service, and also a contemporary service with a band, along with traditional services. Another Episcopal church offers a jazz service along with their traditional ones. A UMC has a contemporary service and a traditional one. A UCC does as well. A Disciples of Christ church in the county offers both contemporary and traditional as does one in the next county. And there are Catholic churches which offer "teen Masses".

But I couldn't disagree more that any of these are cheap or a hindrance. As the rector of one of the Episcopal churches says, there are many paths to spiritual development and through their variety of services, they strive to support all who enter this journey. Try them all he says and find the service that “speaks” to you.


#16

While I don’t have a problem with a diversity of worship styles, where I draw the line is church shopping for a theology that “speaks to you.”

That is the essence of creating a god in one’s own image, no?

I hope that isn’t what the Episcopal rector was advocating!


#17

[quote="4Squarebaby, post:14, topic:310513"]
You do understand that Baptist and Methodist churches are very different. For them to merge one church or both would disappear in favor of the one with the strongest personalities.

[/quote]

Being a former Baptist pastor of course I do. But the culture in small rural towns tend to be different than larger towns or cities. They fellowshipped all the time and had frequent pulpit exchanges. Doctrine or personalites wasn't really an issue for them. Both churches had old historic buildings, and they wanted neither to just gather cobwebs. That was the main reason for them.
Anyway, My reason for bringing them us was an example of something that is fast disappearing here in America: neighborhood communities built around churches.
MCs don't seem to be doing anything similar to what these kinds of churches did with much smaller resources and a 'million dollar sound system'.


#18

It is a good idea but sadly people really don’t like mergers. One side would give up its building and understandably no one wants that. People from both sides would be worried about their place in the new church. People who have been in charge would be worried about their role. Those are natural human worries. The problem is at some point both groups would probably be better served by working out a solution.

I think the MC/neighborhood church contrast is important. One thing that can be good about a neighborhood church is it might force you to learn to get along with and truly love your neighbor. When you select your church or you are in a huge church and you select a click you tend to find those who are just like you in many ways. The problem is as Christians we are obligated to love everyone. It is easy to love people we naturally like. The virtue comes into play when we encounter people we don’t really like. In many ways the more one is forced to love people they don’t really like the more they grow. Of course neighborhood churches can have some or even a large degree of self selection. And mega churches are so big they surely do have a variety of people. But I think there might be some value in the neighborhood church. I imagine this is an issue even for Catholic churches. It seems in the past a parish church really was a parish church. That might not be the case any more.


#19

Very good point.
Some of this simply might be modern American culture. Even in small towns anymore people don’t know thier neighbors and the internet forces people to isolate themselves even more. A sense of pride in community rapidly disappears.
In church culture, unless one belongs to the “Hellfire and Brimstone Separated Church of We Say So”:D, people are forced to interact with people they disagree with, or as you say, simply don’t like.
The same is true in a Catholic parish.
True spiritual growth comes in bringing people together, not separating ourselves into our private islands.

Great thread so far guys, keep it up. :thumbsup:


#20

I can a least semi-understand that since I have a friend from a very southern less than 1,000 population town where most churches cooperated on many things. The one exception was the “church of Christ” they thouht they were the only Christians and stayed to themselves.

But I think that would work only in tiny townsand would not fly in even slightly larger communities. The difference between Methodist and Baptist is way too large.

Methodists are liberal main line arminians. While Baptists are semi calvinist, fundamentalist, and conservative.

In this area you can see the split between main-line and conservativevery easily. There used to be 4 medium sixed Episcopal parishes now there are 4 small parishes and 2 large Christ Churches which swallowowed the majority of the other 4. And the reason was the great derision for homosexuals in the break away Christ Churches.


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