This photo was originally from “Skeptic Society,” and was shared by a (Christian!) Facebook friend who captioned it with a short laundry-list of the alleged “sins” of a mega-church. When I saw it, I nearly launched into a vitriolic Facebook rant in the comments section…until I realized that picking fights ON Facebook nearly always ended in me (and my point) looking stupid. So I took a step back, breathed deep, and…
…wrote this instead.
I’m not naïve: churches, as organizations composed of fallible human beings, are far from perfect. Just because I go to church, or even volunteer in a church, does not make me a superior human being.
However, making a sweeping generalization that all “mega-churches” (by definition, these are basically just churches that have a huge member base, whether spread out across various satellite locations or gathered together in a huge stadium of a venue) are full of “fake Christians” is, well, painful. And painfully judgmental. Also, assuming these “mega-churches” build buildings to the exclusion of charity work is also an egregious logical error: many of these massive church organizations fund non-profits that build “mega-homeless shelters,” and schools, and hospitals, and youth centers.
My church is considered a “mega-church,” if only by virtue of the fact that we’re part of a global church network and we have satellite branches all over the Philippines. And okay, maybe there are a few “fake Christians” in my church–not that I would know, because it’s hardly my place to assess the reality of someone else’s faith–but that in no way invalidates the movement any more than the existence of posers invalidates any Tumblr fandom. The growth of the movement through discipleship is an encouraging sign, more than anything else, that faith is not irrelevant, despite our largely secular-humanist world.
Whether it means people are flocking to a large congregation that meets in a 1,000-seater auditorium or a small community church with twenty pews, the point is that the Good News is spreading. It’s reaching people and changing lives, doing genuine good an individual at a time in a rising tide phenomenon. Posts like this discourage the openness that fosters this spread, creates a culture where Christians might be tempted (not that they already aren’t; we are, after all, human) to cower behind church doors, afraid of angry retribution for our faith just because it is practiced in a stadium and not an intimate sanctuary. Instead of trying to sow division based on the merits of something as irrelevant to the Gospel as seating capacity (there are, after all, more serious debatable matters, such as those of doctrine), we should be encouraging each other to fight the good fight.
And so while, yes, there are dangers to running a mega-church (especially if it becomes a personality-based movement, but that’s a topic for another time and a more eloquent author), dismissing all and sundry as homes of false Christians is more detrimental to the church as a whole.
In conclusion, let’s leave bashing the faith to skeptics and angry atheists–we are One Body, and we need to stand together.