Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some thoughts on local stores, Walmart, and Megachurches.

This is sort of an unorganized little rant, but it's just something that's been happening again and again and I just sort of felt the need to vent a bit.

Everyone knows the plight of the local store since Walmart has exploded. The local store cannot compete with Walmart's prices, selection, and 24 hour convenience and eventually closes.

I used to work for one of the big churches in Pittsburgh PA. There's nothing wrong with that. It was an awesome place, doing the work of the Kingdom in drastic ways.

Now I work for a smaller church in Maumee Oh. Not a small church by any means of the imagination, just smaller than my old church. One of the most discouraging things about ministry in this setting has been the constant critiquing of our ministry with that of the larger churches in town.

In the Toledo region Ceder Creek is one of those churches. Averaging 8,ooo per Sunday at their multiple locations, Ceder Creek (which follows the Willow Creek model) seeks to reach the unchurched.

The question is, are these churches actually reaching the unchurched, or are they really just grabbing people from other churches? The Leadership Network/Hartford Institute for Religion did a study on 12 Megachurches nationwide asking the members where they had gone to church (if any) before they started going to their megachurch. Here's the stats:

4% Have attended the Megachurch most of their lives
6% Had never attended any church (unchurched)
28% Came from another church far away
44% Came from another local church

Another interesting stat is that 80-90% of Maumee is unchurched. Yet megachurches like Cedar Creek, The Church on Strayer, etc... are continuing to grow, but the number of unchurhced never changes. Along with this, churches like mine continue to shrink. Are these megachurches reaching the unchurched or are they pulling a Walmart and slowly closing down the local church?

I believe it's the ladder. In youth ministry there is an expectation that I have to compete with these churches. I can't! I do not have the resources, money, full worship band, youth sanctuary, etc. to pull that off. My Senior Pastor often feels the same pressure. I've had countless youth and adults come up to me asking, "why can't we do this like Cedar Creek, why can't we have the cool youth room set up, etc..."

My point in this rant is this: is this really what the church is suppose to be doing? What is happening in Toledo is mirrored across every city in America. Instead of sharing the Gospel and preaching Christ Crucified, we as the church are looking more like Walmart and the nameless local stores that are closing down. It feels more like a competition than the Kingdom of God (read Acts). I for one have had enough.

I would love to know what you think?


PS: Sorry for the angry tone here...

1 comment:

Jay Miklovic said...

What do you mean Shawn? All your kids are leaving St Pauls to come to Maumee UMC because Wesley is so much cooler than Luther! It has nothing to do with cedar creek.

LOL, totally joking, I do not think i have any kids from St. Paul's, nor do I want them if they have been taught by you for any length of time. (please, this all in jest as you know.)

Numbers are important, sort of, but it is long run numbers that matter. For instance, will your students have had the firm gospel given to them which will affect their families and communities 200 years from now?

Or will they have had a consumer gospel given to them that fades in the next 25 years. If they make a profession that fades it does more dishonor to the kingdom than honor. Not saying this is what is happening at Cedar Creek, it might be, but what I am saying is that is what would have to happen in our ministries if we expect to 'compete.'

The magnitude of our ministry will only be known in light of eternity. Think of Adam's little fruit debacle that led to thousands of years of depravity. So to does faithful gospel presentation to a few youth lead to thousands of years of mercy and grace from generation to generation.

Dinner sometime next week??