Thursday, February 23, 2006

megachurches etc

I see it was Monday when I last posted, and now, Sydney time, it's Thursday. Where did the last 2 days go? Tuesday was Hebrew exegesis class, I leave soon after 8:30 am (travelling with MC) and get back about 1;30, exhausted. That 5 hours includes 3 hours actual class time (with concentration revved to max), travelling both ways (about 25 min coming home, longer to get there with morning peak traffic) morning tea break and a bit of time before class starts (our leeway in case of traffic jam) I don't think I'm likely to blog on Tuesdays the weeks I have class; zombies don't blog. Yesterday I spent the morning with a friend and dealt witrh a few practicalities. Today I have to pop out soon and pay the guy who's coming to renovate the bathroom in our granny flat, then i want to settle down and take this sermon out of my head into written form.

Which brings me, by a very graceful segue, to today's titled subject. The sermon I am supposed to preach on sunday is the first in a series our church is running based on one of those "everyone's doing it"courses spawned by a "successful" (ie gets the numbers) megachurch pastor. Now I don't want to shred said pastor, I'm sure he's a really nice guy who sincerely loves the Lord, and obviously a lot of people like his stuff (equally if you type its name into Google, you find a lot of people who don't, for all sorts of reasons). I don't want to suggest that the material he produces doesn't bless the kind of people he's been called to minister to. But they aren't the people in our church. I went back to our minister Sunday morning and told him I couldn't preach this stuff the way it was presented (yeah, it was a scary thing to do, but conscience is more important than conformity). It was not even evangelism, but pre-evangelism (and 90-something % of our church would be already christians), pop-psychology and marketing, hype and guff, and, while it quotes several verses of scripture out of context in odd translations, it never once mentions Jesus. I have the pastor's permission to take out the good points that were there and completeyly re-package them. So I am going to preach that we should live purposefully (as opposed to drifting aimlessly) because of 1. the example of the Son 2. the embrace of the Father and 3. the empowering of the Spirit. Now I just have to put it together (60-90 minutes work)

Then, in this morning's online SMH (the Sydney Morning Herald) I read an article about a Kenyan guy from the World Council of Churches warning against megachurches for promoting a Christianity that it "two miles long and one inch deep". I don't want to suggest that megachurches are all bad, or anything like that, but I think there are some fallacies in the megachurch thinking that we have to beware of. Ones I've noticed include:
size = success
excitement = spirit
a prosperous middle-class existence is what God wants for us
feel good philosophies with God's name attached to them = biblical preaching
involvement in church programmes = dedication to God

The list could go on, and I haven't even touched on the money thing, and the manipulation to "give us your money and God will bless you" At that point I shudder. ..

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