Megachurches Set the Standard for Spiritual Practice

Megachurches Set the Standard for Spiritual Practice

Megachurches, the individual faith centers that draw thousands every Sunday-may represent just a small percentage of the actual church populace, but they generally set the standard for worship.
By Mark Hoerrner

While most people would consider a state like California hedonistic at the very least, it has shown the highest growth of "megachurches"; churches that regularly have more than 2000 worshipers per week. Perhaps one of the best known churches is the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, where Christian celebrity author Rick Warren is the pastor. Saddleback sees an attendance of more than 15,000 every week.

Yet as large as some of these churches are, they represent less than one percent of the total churches in any one denomination (including non-denominational churches). The teachings at these churches, such as the proliferation of specific additions of technology, life groups, and other worship avenues are generally regarded as the measuring stick in church operations.

Certainly, Warren's book, "The Purpose-Driven Life", has altered the landscape of church services and provided pastors across America with thousands of Sunday Service ideas. A companion book, "The Purpose-Driven Church" has also been used to create the foundation for what an optimal church organization should look like.

One of the consistent themes among the large churches seems to be the inclusion of electronic components such as recorded music, video projection, dance and drama sequences, and electronic instruments.

A study by Faith Communities of Today (FACT) found that these churches often avoid subjects like the End of Times, stewardship of time and money, and tend to focus on sermons involving God's love, advice for daily living, and personal spiritual growth. Apparently, the subject of money is one of the things that turns worshipers away from churches despite the fact that the Bible refers to the stewardship of finances more than 2,500 times, and is one of the top three subjects on which he preached.

Demographics show that majority of these churches have a members who are college-educated, married, and generally are under 60 years of age. They are also predominantly Caucasian memberships.

Church programmes are also a big issue and many of the megachurches offer a variety of both traditional (senior activities) and non-traditional (substance abuse counseling) programs:
  • Bible studies 78%
  • Prayer groups 83%
  • Youth/teen activities 94%
  • Men's/women's ministries 86%
  • Spiritual Retreats 34%
  • Young Adult activities 83%
  • Choirs 85%
  • Community Service programs 65%
  • Parenting/marriage classes 52%
  • Senior Adult activities 82%
  • Self-help groups 57%
  • Sports/Fitness teams 59%
  • National Parachurch programs 53%
The sample comes from more than 150 megachurches that responded to the FACT survey.

The churches also set the standard for community involvement. Almost every church in the survey had some sort of food-related donation program. Other community impact programs included:
  • Cash or vouchers given to families or individuals - 91%
  • Programs for youth and teens - 99%
  • Counseling services or support groups - 95%
  • Hospitals & nursing homes - 80%
  • Prison ministries - 91%
  • Thrift store or thrift store donations - 78%
  • Temporary or permanent housing/shelter - 78%
  • Senior citizen programs - 84%
  • Substance abuse & 12 step programs - 85%
The study also found that about 300 members spent about five hours per week in volunteer service to the community through the church.
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