Of course, I should preface this by admitting that my current church has Sunday attendance of about 40, so if anyone wants to attribute everything I say to jealousy, have at it! :^)
OK, to be serious, the recent travails of Atlanta pastor/Rock Star Eddie Long bring this to mind--along with the real life examples of Joel Osteen, John Piper, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, Ted Haggard, and for better or worse, a host of others. Those reading the list will likely find some names they love, and some they absolutely abhor, and perhaps some (praise God!) they don't even know about. We can even add the fact that the church grew to several thousand members on Pentecost, so Peter and the other disciples were megachurch pastors in a sort of way, too.
Perhaps the example of Peter gives us all we need to know about the megachurch; Acts records that the disciples quickly found themselves serving tables for the widows and orphans of the church instead of preaching the Word--see Acts 6. So what does the Word command the pastor whose ministry is growing to do?
Obviously, He commands the successful preacher to give his ministry to others, as Peter did in creating the office of the deacon (and Moses did by delegating judging much earlier), and this is the crucial difference between successful megachurch pastors (Peter, Piper, Spurgeon) and those who bring shame on the Church (Osteen, Haggard, Long, etc..). For that matter, it is also the difference between successful small churches and unsuccessful; is the pastor giving his ministry to others?
Sounds a lot like Matthew 28; it really does come down to the Gospel. While I would argue that large churches give special temptations to pastors to act selfishly and carnally, and it's far harder for a megachurch pastor to know his congregants well and minister to them, the real issue at hand here is whether the pastor is training his replacements and "making disciples."
This also illustrates why so many churches have difficulties after building; they are concentrating on bricks and mortar, not....
....making disciples. Again, it comes down to a mature understanding of the Gospel. Is the pastor making copies of himself, or of Christ? Your church's health and future depends in large part on the answer to that question.
Hello Steeltown; Goodbye, DFL - Jamestown, North Dakota. 15,000 people. At confluence of the James and Pipestem rivers, about 90 miles west of Fargo. Home to a state hospital and psychi...
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