For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:14 (ESV)
I remember reading that the average time someone spends in a mega church was just under three years. The discerning view was that it took that long to realize that what they were involved with was entirely carnal and not of God at all. Once that revelation is reached there is simply no reason to have to wake up early on a Sunday anymore. For decades now we have had the unsaved dictate how church was to be done, through the purpose driven church leadership paradigm and the seeker friendly theories of church growth. Worship music has veered away from traditional Christian topics such as the cross and the blood for very similar reasons. The cross and the blood simply do not sell to the unsaved as much as singing about how great we are and how we deserve some cosmic inheritance. Sermons were deemed far too long to keep the attention span of the people so they were shrunk down into digestible morsels. These new 20-minute sermonettes also shifted focus away from the gospel, which was deemed offensive, to more felt needs and carnal realities of the people's current temporal lives. Rick Warren once wrote to pastors that preaching on worldly needs as opposed to the gospel would give the unsaved a reason to want to come back to their churches the following week. I kid you not. But after three years of vapid, insipid, 20-minute motivational and self-help speeches people began to realize that why they originally got involved, God, simply was not there. Sure, they were entertained but you can be entertained every night of the week in the world. The problem was the original attraction of entertainment and the promise of eternal life lost its luster when you realize that the six-part sermon series on improving your marriage probably is not saving you from eternal damnation.
Most people look out on the mega-church landscape and think that everything is copacetic. At first blush they do appear healthy but when you peel back the layers of the onion you see what is really going on. The true purpose driven model teaches pastors that it is ok to lose sheep. Blessed subtraction actually encourages pastors to facilitate the departure of folks who dare dissent. What most do not see is pastors are taught that what makes this a viable church growth scheme is the expectation that for every departure, the church generates two more new folks coming in the front door. This is why the church is so focused on drawing new people into the church under the guise of course of evangelism. Since the vast majority of such churches compromise the gospel, no one is actually getting saved. The prevailing opinion has been that the congregants willingly choose this and therefore must be approving of the state of the church.
Not so fast.
The above link is to an article summarizing the latest research from Infinity Concepts. It is interesting to note that the researchers try and downplay the results be declaring that a majority of evangelicals are satisfied with their churches but that summation buries the lead. In true Rick Warren fashion, the researchers conclude that the pastor must "cast clear vision" but that is most certainly not what this research bears out. Remove all of the niceties and canned taking points and we find that 80% desire at least one change out of the 14 areas researched. What is astonishing is what areas they say they want changed:
They are least likely to be satisfied with:
Amount of in-depth teaching (69%).
Overall style of the music (68%).
Amount of political involvement/messages (68%).
Size of the congregation (67%).
The top four reasons all scored 67-69% and represent the greatest flaws within the mega-church movement. The first rejection is a rejection of the sugar-coated pablum served up by most purpose-driven pastors. Disgraced pastor Perry Noble once declared that the people in his church that complained that they wanted to go deeper in the word of God were the "jackasses" in his church. That is the prevailing pastoral opinion as well. Here we see however that 69% of the folks in the pews being taught a Veggie-Tale version of their faith wish to go deeper. The second encouraging sign is a 68% rejection of the current state of worship music. Now the researchers insist that some want older songs and some want more contemporary songs but that just muddies the water. The bottom line is 68% of the people realize what is being brought forth today is not working. The club like atmosphere with strobe lights and dry ice has got to go.
Also coming in at 68% rejection is a wholesale rejection of the NAR dominionist position and we say hallelujah to that! Think about this for a second. 68% of the current mega-church attendees say there is too much political involvement from their church and too many political sermons. Considering how sold out the modern American church is, this number is very encouraging. The final area of disagreement comes in at 67% and it is a rejection of the entire mega-church makeup. The size of the congregation is simply too big. Mega-church sized churches must compromise the gospel to keep so many people. Do you think Joel Osteen gets over 50,000 folks per weekend because he preaches the gospel? No, it is the opposite. People get lost in a mega church. There is little congregational connection and virtually no pastoral connection.
Now, statistics are sticky things. One can make almost any argument they want and interpret numbers according to their own inherent biases. I make no such definitive statements from this research. I do however draw a sliver of hope from them. A hope that maybe not all are as duped as I thought. That maybe they too are sick and tired of all of the political games being played in church, conferring righteousness to one political party and assigning the other as evil. Demanding electoral support or else our faith is somehow jeopardized. This sheep-beating has gone on for decades and it is at least hopeful that 68% of the churched realize it has to stop. I also draw a sliver of hope in that 69% of the churched want more in depth teaching. Since the majority who attend such churches are not saved, I view this as a hunger for the real God being continual. It reaffirms the work of discernment ministries as a necessary for some people to emerge from the doctrinal darkness and into the glorious light of Christ and His word. Never lose sight of the fact that the majority of the people trapped in the America church system think they are saved. They have been assured this by their false teachers. They will stand before Christ however and say "Lord Lord" on the final day. The entire mega church mentality goes against the key verse for today. For narrow is the way and few are those who find it. Few are those who find it. Time is running out and this research gives us a bit more hope than we had yesterday that maybe those we seek to reach may be closer than we think. Praise God Almighty.