Sunday, November 28, 2004

This trend chills me

The Atlanta Journal Constitution today has a major piece by John Blake about the latest wrinkle in the megachurch phenomenon: satellite congregations. That's all well and good, but some of them are actually beaming in the "pastors"--like Andy Stanley from North Point--by 3-D video to do the sermons. The story says some people who attended the Buckhead satellite didn't even realize he wasn't actually there! Talk about smoke and mirrors.

The whole megachurch phenomenon scares me. They are built on the cult of personality, and what if that personality can't handle the power? You know, there's an old saying about power and corruption. Not that any of these guys are corrupt. But what happens if they die? Then the whole church system has to find a replacement.

What the megachurch phenomenon has helped produce is a nation of church shoppers. They come to be entertained, their ears and eyes tickled, to feel good. Then they go home and come back next week. What happened to church as community, where you can actually talk with the pastor, hug him or her after the service? Get your spiritual and emotional needs met as a family of faith? Such churches usually are governed by outside authorities--e.g., denominational structures--to make sure they keep in line morally and theologically, and who provide resources of all kinds.

This trend is deeply troubling, and is I believe one symptom of the growing self-centeredness of the American population. That's what conservative Republicanism is about, after all--what's good for ME. Forget about helping others, or even tolerating others.


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