First, there was no indication that the study of this class is complete but rather that the professor was conjecturing about what their findings may be. I hope that the Spark intends to publish a follow-up article with the official findings of this class.
Second, the article claims that a megachurch is often a supermarket of therapy and self-help groups. As a Christian, I believe that Christ’s redeeming power is for all of creation. Doesn’t this then apply to every area of the human life, including struggles with addictions and fear and abuse? Christians should be shining the light of God’s love into the places where people are hurting the most. With more than 2,000 people worshipping and tithing on any given Sunday, these churches have been blessed with incredible resources and should be using them to facilitate God’s healing!
Third, the professor in the article claims that at a megachurch is it
easy for people to be unengaged, uninvolved and unaccountable. I believe
that this is one of a megachurch’s biggest struggles. But as with
any struggle, with God’s help it can be battled and often overcome.
As a regular attendee of Mars Hill Bible Church, one of the churches mentioned
in the article, I am more challenged, more involved and more engaged than
I have been at any other church in my short life.
More on the megachurch
I believe Jesus taught that we were all members of one body of Christ,
but it sounds like Mr. Dougherty feels we can only worship properly and
“efficiently” in small, solemn units. Does he believe heaven
is divided into small sections also? Also, although volunteers are the
cornerstone of any church, the quality of an expert staff speaks for itself.
Maybe not; perhaps a volunteer professor would better teach his class?
In support of the megachurch
Being a military family we move around regularly. This has led us to attend a number of churches that, by the definition provided above, qualify as megachurches. Through our experiences we have found that larger church congregations often have the resources and facilities to provide more programs and support systems for their members, and my wife and I have found that participating in small-group studies is one of the best ways to reduce a sense of anonymity and encourage accountability. Also, the article argues that the result of megachurch involvement is disengagement from church life; our personal experience challenges this notion.
I recently spent a number of months deployed to Baghdad and was pleasantly
surprised by the many gifts, letters and prayers offered by various groups,
all originating with my “megachurch family.” My family has
moved eight times in the last 13 years, and we’ve been adopted by
a number of church families (large and small). My experience tells me
that it’s not the size of the church’s membership as much
as its adherence to bliblical teachings that makes for a personal experience
that is spiritually engaging and meaningful.
The purpose of the course was to introduce students to the megachurch phenomenon and to explore the unique opportunities and challenges that face the largest of churches. Students read sociologists, economists and church-growth scholars on the topic. We paired readings and class discussions with time spent participating in three Grand Rapids megachurches: Mars Hill Bible Church, Calvary Church and Resurrection Life Church. From their observational research, students prepared a final paper and presentation.
Students’ findings affirmed the many vital, vibrant ways in which megachurches are serving the religious needs of postmodern society: a local church with global reach, multiple points of entry and ways to belong, a faith that is relevant and exciting.
Yet megachurches also face challenges. Students discovered the difficulty that large congregations encounter in fostering belonging and intimacy among thousands. We identify such challenges not to criticize or demean the important work being done in these congregations. Rather, the attempt was to raise constructive questions that might make megachurches even more efficient and effective in ministry. As Reformed Christians, we believe that no human enterprise or organization is fully perfected. Thus, the call to redemption/reformation is as important for the church as it is for those persons, organizations, and social institutions outside it.
Finally, it must be noted that the Spark article was written
before the course began. In the article, I am quoted to present an overview
of what prior research says about the megachurch phenomenon. These comments
must not be read as indictments of any specific congregation — after
all, our class had not yet visited any congregations at the time the article
was written. To the contrary, our class took great care to honor and respect
each congregation studied. In the end, more than one student commented
that the course had for them produced a new appreciation for the innovative
potential of large-scale congregational ministry.
Dorm pic prompts memories
in the world is Spark?
What a site!
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