Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Megachurches on the Rise -- Has Religion Become an Enterprise?

Joel Olsteen
Brandon Pierce, Contributor
Activist Post

Megachurches are the rock stars of churches.  These are religious institutions that have turned themselves into the equivalent of fast food franchises.  Many have sprung from almost nothing to have multiple locations spanning states.  But what is the appeal of a megachurch and why are they so unbelievably popular?  Let's look inside to find out about this unconventional take on modern religion that is sweeping the nation.

Most of us don't think of churches as a profitable establishment.  We think of churches as being symbols of religion, and while they may raise some money for their obviously necessary expenses, in the end they are not for profit.  Most are actually considered non-profit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service.  And, yet, according to Forbes, the top ten megachurches in the United States brought in a staggering $8.5 billion in income last year.  Is all of that for church expenses or being dispensed back into the community?  Well, that is a question for the IRS.  But we want to dig a little deeper and see what is so fascinating to Americans about the concept of megachurches.

How do they do it?  Well, like all things in life, bigger is better.  Megachurches have more funds at their disposal, and that means they are able to turn their church services into a bigger spectacle.
Many feature huge stages, rock star-like musical segments, jumbotron televisions, and facilities that leave church members with more amenities than your average country club.  But at the heart of every megachurch is the pastor, and they are always a mover-and-shaker on the religious scene.


Consider Joel Olsteen.  This guy is the new rock star of Christianity and holds the keys to the lock of the biggest megachurch in America.  His Houston, Texas church has over 40,000 in attendance each week, a number you might expect for a professional sports event.  Televised, the reach is much bigger.  Joel Olsteen reaches over seven million households each Sunday, and he has managed to grow to these epic proportions in just thirteen years since he took the helm of the church after his father passed away.  He is a national presence, with best-selling books and television appearances.  The annual budget of Lakewood Church is over $70 million.  If you're in Houston, Texas, it's hard to not want to be a part of Olsteen's congregation.

A look at the Lakewood Church's website has Joel Olsteen everywhere.  While his messages might be good, millions tune in to this guy as opposed to going to a local church and establishing a relationship with a real pastor.  Is that good or bad?  Well, the jury is out.  Religion is always a lightning rod for debate, and this is no different.  But Joel is a cultural phenomenon.  What about those that are members of much smaller megachurches that place their pastor on a pedestal?

It happens.  Every Sunday, millions of Americans watch their church service on a television.  Only, they are not in the comfort of their own home.  They go to commune with their fellow Christians and watch messages preached to them from Jumbotron television screens.  Gone is the old principle of church, where the pastor is a confidant and person to rely on.  Many members of these megachurches would be lucky if they ever came within 100 yards of their pastor, much less get a private appointment to speak with them.

The train keeps rolling, and megachurches seem to be the new trend in American religion.  But is it a good one?  Too many of these megachurches leave their congregation idolizing their figureheads  . . . and all too often, they go astray, leaving a lot of lost sheep.

At the risk of being long-winded, we'll leave this topic for now, and if you are interested we can delve further into the concept of megachurches and what happens when they go wrong.

This article first appeared on Common Sense Conspiracy


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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

So glad to see this being addressed!

It doesn't seem like a very spiritual entity, but more like a business. Spiritual freedom is important and it's equally important to shed light on this trend.

The "churches" in my area have built in cafes! Sometimes starbucks. 3 jumbotrons for the stadium to see, dry ice, and strobes. They gifted me a giant candle to try to keep me as a customer. Where is this heading?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It is nothing more than a business. "Bring a friend!" and "Please fill out the welcome card." are phrases I remembered being spoken in attempts to rally more customers into the pews. Unfortunately the church has declined into a "feel good" institution that caters to emotion. But at the same time it employs the element of fear to prevent or discourage members from leaving. A mixed bag.


It's really just a social club now with perks for the members. And the music services can be easily confused with American Idol auditions from what I've seen.

Anonymous said...

Perfectly Americana: 1. Trendy: most Americans are obsessed with keeping-up with latest trends.
2. Jumbotrons: What American wouldn't want to mix the their two favorite sources of enlightenment -- Giant screen TV and Church.
3. Gaudy Opulence: Americans can't waste time on developing a classic style so jump in with over-the-top, in-your-face gaudiness.
4. F the poor: why waste money helping the down and destitute when you can spend it on making church fun.

howardtlewisiiiffy said...

Churches as a brainwashing apparatus for the heads of state? How about a head of state who declares his cabal a recognizable branch of the popular religion and procedes to use an image of Christ being crucified to put everyone into a terrified submission like the pope does. People should notice the 'lady in red' jumping the barricade and tackling his crooked ass and knocking him and some of his entourage to the street. That puts it all in perspective. God bless her. I hope she is happy, free, and well.

Anonymous said...

The "rapture" Prophets for PROFIT are ANTI-Christ DEATH CULTISTS. God/Jesus put you in this LIFE to learn "soul lessons", to increase your consciousness to the point of Redemption. Hagee and his Ilk REJECT the LIFE God gave you, and dangle a "shortcut" in front of people, just as SATAN dangled Temptation in front of Jesus. Do not follow the ANTI-Christ lies of FALSE prophets. Their "shortcut" of cheating God's lessons does NOT lead to Heaven, any more than cheating on school work teaches you the subject. Hagee, Robertson, the whole group, do NOT believe in anything except the MONEY they collect for leading their Flocks astray.
"FEELGOOD" your way to Heaven?

Anonymous said...

Watching one of the best motivational speakers of our time is a better use of one's time considering the evil junk TV and killer/sex trash movies etc.

Besides, if an emergency arises, who wants to be involved with the 'Clergy Response Team', the Homeland Security gang have installed?
Need a clergyman to tell you to calm down?

Anonymous said...

Religion is an apparatus of the State. Always was, always has been.

Anonymous said...

Joel Osteen is a singular situation. While debacles like the John Edwards scandal reinforce the notion that even the most squeaky clean facade hides a vacuous con man, Osteen appears to be the exception to the rule. He is a remarkable speaker and he has a lot to say. I'm not a Christian but Osteen draws a huge secular audience; he's part Will Rogers, part Fulton Sheen. Say what you want about the guy - I learn something about myself every time I hear him speak.

Anonymous said...

Haynes Johnson's 'Sleepwalking through history: American in the Reagan years' has a chapter on the rise of televangelism, appropriately titled 'God and Mammon.'

American evangelism has long been a big tent spectacle, but the rise of the political Christian conservative co-opted it for a decidedly unChristian agenda. The pious became judgmental instead of tolerant, war mongering instead of peace loving and in love with riches and hateful to the poor.

Osteen may be a great motivational speaker, but there is no reason why his enterprise should be tax sheltered.

Anonymous said...

I could think of a lot worse things to do with your time. The fomenting will surely continue until the government finds a way to TAX them. That's the bottom line here, isn't it?

Personally, I believe the End Time Ministry will begin just the way Christ's did - with a violent removal of the Money Lenders who enslave the people.

Anonymous said...

Has religion become an enterprise? LOL! When has religion not been an enterprise? Religion is the oldest money-making scam in history. All the other fraudsters learned the tricks of the trade from the religionists.

Anonymous said...

Mega churches on the rise? I have the perfect solution: tax the fuck out of them and watch how fast they disappear.

Desi said...

Not being addressed at all is the subversion of the uSA by Rome (that would be the thing that calls itself a church, but is not). Curious that that the focus is ever on everyone other than the RC's.

Kill a few Presidents, Kings, Prime Ministers, Premiers? No problem.

Steal billions world wide from governments under the rubric of National Taxation (when it is all only Annates, disguised)? Feel free!

Steal even more from the plate that your own faithful fill every Sunday? Ka-Ching!

Use proxies to kill off populations worldwide adhering to different faiths? (China, Indochina, Yugoslavia, Europe...all within 100 yrs and still going strong now in Iraq, Afghanistan and likely Iran)...why not?

After all...the oldest Franchise in the world can do whatever it wants. Divine Right will ever and always be working behind the scenes...stealing your domestic rite.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with our churches being moden in today's society. Everything else is being modernized so why do Christians not get to enjoy the updated facilities. By the way Joel Osteen does not even receive a paycheck from his church. If people didn't enjoy his message people wouldn't be going to his church! He is simply good at what he does and needs a facility to house the the members. I'm pretty sure if people go its because they want to its not like they are being held against their will and plus I'm pretty sure if I had a Starbucks at my church it would be a huge plus anda time saver. What truly maters for any church is the message that's being preached.

Anonymous said...

Religion is manmade and it is big business. If truth was being taught, the parking lot would be empty. People like motivational speakers like Olsteen, not the truth of God.

christconquers said...

These are not Churches. Not Churches at all...

You can't just erect a building, throw up a couple of big screens and call it a Church!

Where is the link to the Apostles? There is none.

No Apostolic succession - no Church.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

My church meets in the basement of a local boarding house. We have roughly 15 -20 members. I get discipled by my pastor each week and actually have friendships with other church attendees. I truly pity megachurches and what they're missing out on.

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