Saturday, August 04, 2007

Stereotype Smackdown: Dispelling the Myths of Megachurches - washingtonpost.com

Stereotype Smackdown: Dispelling the Myths of Megachurches - washingtonpost.com:
"They're big, nondenominational, homogenous churches that are all show with little spiritual depth.

That's what some might assume about the nation's megachurches, but scholar Scott Thumma is out to bash the stereotypes and explain the churches' appeal.

'Everybody takes those general characteristics and applies them to all megachurches,' he said.

Yes, they're big, he says, but only 5 percent have 3,000 seats or more, and only two or three can seat 10,000 at one service.

He and Dave Travis have written 'Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America's Largest Churches' to reveal what research says about the 1,250 Protestant churches across the country that attract at least 2,000 worshipers each weekend."

I've heard these stereotypes; they're not a figment of the imagination.

My sympathies tend toward the "wee kirks", and thus I do not find myself attracted to large churches, but I do get tired of hearing people criticize the large congregations.

It is said that Sunday morning is the most segregated time slot in the week. Thumma and Davis suggest that rather than being homogeneous, the larger congregations tend to be racially diverse. Their other findings seem to undermine other stereotypes as well.

Maybe we in smaller congregations have something to learn from the megachurches?

2 comments:

Quotidian Grace said...

Interesting book, Denis, thanks for blogging about it. Certainly Lakewood Church in Houston, which is one of the most influential megachurches in the country, is a model of diversity: its congregation is about evenly divided between Anglos, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians.

Are minorities more comfortable in larger congregations? I don't know what the dynamic is here, but certainly we could learn from it.

Denis Hancock said...

I'm not sure what all the factors are. In our small congregation we have minorities that worship regularly with us, but still comprise only about 1% of our congregation.

I suppose the best thing to do is to extend the hand of fellowship and to try and make visitors and members feel a part of our fellowship.