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Is the Clock Ticking for the Mega Churches?

In the Great Giveaway (ch. 2) I argued that the new post-Enlightenment generations will not trust the highly produced worship seeker-sensitive Sunday morning services of the mega church. They trust community, places to connect, authentic lived truth, the organic beauty of a simple worship liturgy. I wrote:

Postmoderns … suspect the machinations of consumer-oriented messages to have power over them to make “buy” decisions. Instead postmoderns recognize truth most where it is lived day to day one with another. The postmodern is convinced of truth through participation, not consumer appeals, through wholly lived display, not reasoned arguments. Seeker services will still work for the boomers and those raised in modernity either by age or in the Evangelical subculture. These people of modernity were taught to trust only their individual minds or experiences. Postmoderns however know their minds or experiences can be manipulated. Modernist boomers are suspicious of tradition in the true Enlightenment sense. They are the ultimate feeling generation, self indulgent and focused on their own “felt needs.” Post modernity however, finds a generation that suspects the blatant consumer oriented persuasion of the dominant media. Their “felt needs” have an ever shorter MTV-like life span. Some of this Next generation sees marketing and advertising as capitalist intrusions with an agenda into forming people certain ways so as to benefit certain economic power interests. They respect truth that is lived. The postmodern generation may enjoy the show for a short while. But they are looking for a home; a community wherein a belonging can take root and the moral fabric of truth can be borne out. If postmodern culture is for real, seeker services are running out of time. The next generation seeks community over anonymity and is over dosed on consumer appeals to felt needs. Postmoderns desire something bigger to be transformed in to.

Now comes this stunning post by my friend Darryl Dash reporting on the popular Canadian radio host Drew Marshall’s experiment to hire non-Christians to visit churches and report back on their experiences (reminiscent of this and this). These accounts, that Darryl reports on, seem to substantiate what I (and many others) was writing about. I urge you to read Darryl’s post. It is stunning at how the need for this development, of going from produced church to organic community, is eerily recited back to us in the reports of these two non Christians.

Canada, by most accounts, is ahead of United States in the march to post Christendom. I grew up there, spend much time there and count many Canadians as good friends. Yet I believe in Canada many evangelicals will still insist on the mega-church as the answer to contextualize Christianity for the challenges of a hyper-busy consumerist late capitalist society. This report however argues against that. In the United States, I believe (more than in Canada) evangelicals will continue to build mega churches to warehouse the existing Christian base in our population. But we will die in two generations if we do not seed and support the missional efforts of the missional church/ emerging church movement.

What do you think about the imminent future of the mega-church in Canada and the United States?Do the reports of the non-Christians in Darryl’s post substantiate the thesis as articulated above? Can the mega church change to survive in post Christendom?

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I’m in Indiana for a few days relaxing at the home of my wife’s family. Hope everyone is having (or had) some nice getaway time for either July 4th or Canada Day weekend.

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