100 years ago to this very day, something important happened that dramatically changed what people have come to expect from church here in America and around the world. On January 1st, 1923, Aimee Semple McPherson opened the doors of Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. With a large auditorium containing over 5,000 seats, this new facility instantly became the largest church in America of its day. Over the next few years, “Sister Aimee” would end up drawing impressive crowds through the use of what she called “illustrated sermons,” which included stage props, toe-tapping music and her own charismatic personality. But what has been the result of this century-long confusion of church and theater? How have “celebrity pastors” changed what we expect of ministers and clergy, and how have concepts such as “seeker-sensitivity” affected the way we worship, evangelize and make disciples? These are some of the questions I’ll be exploring over the course of this new year as I reflect upon the the impact of the modern megachurch movement.
…In this profound and in some ways, prescient, volume, Blamires looks off into the not too distant future and sees a day in which,
the dominating controversy within Christendom will be between those who give full weight to the supernatural reality at the heart of all Christian dogma, practice, and thought, and those who try to convert Christianity into a naturalistic religion by whittling away the reality and comprehensiveness of its supernatural basis. This conflict is already upon us and is pushing into the background controversies which caused deep and bitter strife in previous ages.
Unfortunately, what Blamires foresaw has actually come to pass, and it’s not merely happening in lecture halls led by secular college professors. It’s also happening in both liberal and conservative churches alike. Conservatives like to focus on what God is doing in your life, right now. The focus is on one’s own personal experience, along with a host of practical issues that result from living out a life of faith. Liberals, on the other hand, prefer to focus on what God (however they define what that means) is doing in the larger community. We need to band together in order to be a part of God’s ongoing plan of redemption for the world through the pursuit of things like social justice, equity and environmental responsibility. Whereas in conservative churches, one is more likely to encounter The Jesus Show (complete with a mini rock concert, skits, and inspirational pep talks), liberal churches feel a little more like a Bernie Sanders rally. With the insight Blamires provides, it becomes easier to see that both liberal and conservative churches have been secularized because they are both focused on this world. They’re primarily focused on the body, not the soul, and the practical benefits of Christianity, rather than on Christianity itself. Read More»
Shane Rosenthal | “The Megachurch Century” | January 1, 2023
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