I found this book at my local book fair over a year ago and thought it looked interesting. It took me over a year to read it. The first two thirds of the book, which trace some of the marketing that the church in America has done over the past 200 years, was honestly kind of boring. But the final three chapters of the book made the purchase worth every penny. Twitchell spent a lot of time visiting different megachurches (mostly in Orlando, FL).
He did not come away impressed.
Essentially, his impression of megachurches (churches with 2,000 or more in attendance) was not good. If the goal is to provide a consumer-friendly experience in the area of religion, the megas are certainly successful. But that’s not the stated purpose of the church, which is to make disciples. The impression I got from Twitchell is that he considers the megas the 21st century version of the 19th century Great Awakenings’ revivals–big on emotionalism and marketing, little on substance–and that they’re little city-states that provide almost anything for their parishoners. They preach a lot of self-help, or “your best life now” type stuff. And money–the money! Hundreds of millions of dollars are rolling through megas every year, and Twitchell’s observation is that these monies are used mostly on themselves.
I’m not really interested in starting a discussion on the pros and cons of megas (although, let’s be honest–many of us in ministry have, at one time or another, wished our churches were the next big thing). I simply think Twitchell’s observations are worth looking at. They should warn and disturb us, causing us to ask oen question: Why do we do what we do?
Are we secretly wishing and praying and working toward becoming the next big thing simply because we would be the next big thing?
Are the sermons (wait–megas call them “messages”) we prepare (are we preparing them, or stealing them) for our audiences really gospel-centered, or audience centered?
Just some good things to think about…