There’s a book review up at the Wall Street Journal that captures some of what we should love, and despise, in the “megachurch” phenomenon. The book in question is “Shopping for God” by James Twitchell.
The book deals with the shop-’till-you-drop approach of some evangelical churches of no particular denomination. And it deals with the Christian religion as just another product in the public marketplace. Most especially the megachurches, and, by inference, any church that places growth in its membership as a top priority.
The author of the review has this observation about why evangelical memberships have been skyrocketing in recent years:
But what is it about the evangelical “product” that makes it so desirable? Any number of scholars have noted that, in recent years, it has been the churches that demand the most of people–tithing, bowing to firm doctrines, observing strict rules of conduct–that have grown the fastest. There seems to be something in our nature that requires from religion not just feel-good spirituality but strong moral direction. We are willing to make sacrifices to live by the dictates of a religiously grounded truth.
In the United States, whose founders were grounded in the moral precepts of the Christian Bible, religiously grounded truth is the basis for our notions of what is right and wrong, what is lawful and what is unlawful.
Absent an anchor for our morality, we are adrift. Absent an anchor, we cling to any rock or shoal, and proclaim it “good.” Whether it is or not: recall the hippie adage, “if it feels good, do it.” Drinking bourbon on the rocks feels good going down; the next morning, not so much. Black coffee and aspirin, if you please.
The Bible contains more than sufficient wisdom for us all. With respect to too much bourbon, it could well be from Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:5) “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” Do we need a megachurch to discover these biblical truths? No, of course not. Any church will do, even if it is only wherever two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20).
Salvation comes from Zion; his name is Jesus who became our Christ. His story is written down for all, in the Bible. If you need Christian rock music, stadium-size crowds, blessing of the bikes, or other non-essentials, perhaps you should spend some quiet time with the Bible to discover that you really don’t need these things.
Perhaps that small, run-down church down the road, that nobody you know seems to go to, might just have it all…