Beware the Perils of Megachurches by SHANE IDLEMAN for Charisma News
By the title you might assume I’m against megachurches, I’m not. God often blesses a work, and a church grows, but there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Some megachurches are doctrinally sound, filled with excitement and expectations, while others have a mere motivational speaker leading them away from theological depth and width.
In the past, many churches could avoid hot-topic issues, but not today. A clear line of demarcation is being drawn in the sand. Many pastors are choosing between political correctness and biblical faithfulness, between crowd appeal and crowd conviction, between tickling the ears and challenging the heart. Hear more here on why kingdoms are colliding.
Whether the megachurch is in California, Georgia or New York, it’s sad to see many pastors concerned about offending their audience. After all, whoever has the most social media followers, campuses or sermon downloads is the way to gauge success, right? Wrong. God judges faithfulness—faithfulness to His Word.
Truth about marriage, abortion, socialism and national security is often neglected, watered down or avoided altogether in the hope of not offending members. Please don’t misunderstand: Many megachurch pastors are doing great things, from Chuck Swindoll, Tony Evans and Jack Hibbs to Jack Graham, Greg Laurie and Jim Cymbala—we feature many of them on the WCF Radio Network—but as a whole, many are audience-driven, not God-inspired.
As an example of this seismic shift, a few years back a major publisher approached me about writing Desperate for More of God. After submitting the manuscript, I was told, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t meet a ‘felt need’.” The editor continued, “The chapter, ‘The Desperate Need For Truth,’ isn’t relevant. People aren’t concerned about truth.” Bingo … he nailed it. That’s exactly the problem: We are asking what do people want rather than what they need. Looking back, I praise God that my manuscript was turned down because now I can offer my books as free downloads.
I love my fellow pastors. We feel the pain of parents losing a child to an overdose, marriages crumbling under our watch and more tragedies than we can count. But at the end of the day, we are not just shepherds, we are also watchmen. We are to uplift and encourage and also convict. There are times when the saints must be fed, and there are times when the sinners must be warned (C. H. Spurgeon). When we fail to proclaim God’s Word faithfully, we run the risk of becoming politically correct and “pervert[ing] the words of the living God” (Jer. 23:36b).