Thursday, March 21, 2019
Megachurches and Theologies of Consumption :: Religion Christian
Last weekend, while attending Lexington, KYs Southland Christian Church, I standard an invitation to attend a Poor Mans After-Tax Dinner. Located on a 115-acre plot that occupies a stretch of the rapidly disappearing tillage between Lexington and Jessamine County, Southland will host the gala, which includes a catered meal and a performance by the Dale Adams Band. On the churchs website, an announcement for the position asks, Did you have to pay when you filed taxes? This months Gathering is designed to suspensor you to forget your IRS woes.1 The After-Tax Dinner will minister to those still reeling from the April 15th deadline, and, with any luck, it will foster solidarity among Southlands flock, the majority of whom are members of the tax square bracket whose wallets ache most severely after just having rendered unto Caesar the money that belongs to him. Southland Christian Church, one of several worship centers in the United States that has earned the moniker Six Flags over Jesus, is Lexingtons largest megachurch. With a weekly attendance of 8,000 mickle and an operating budget that supports a staff of over eighty members, Southland utmost exceeds most U.S. congregations in terms of financial resources and social clout. In recent years, popular and scholarly studies have attempted to situate the megachurch movement deep down a broad cultural context. Although the majority of these analyses dispute the precise description of a megachurch, most distinguish these multiplex sanctuaries from smaller worship communities by using the same criteriai.e. weekly attendance, campus acreage, annual budget, etc.that megachurches themselves draw on to represent their own success. 2 However, the essence of a megachurch is not its large buildings, exclusively rather the theology of consumption that informs its programming.3 In this way, a megachurch ethos has infiltrated even the smallest congregations in the United States and has helped to solidify Christianitys inextricable connection to consumer capitalism. To those who see megachurches as symptomatic of a flawed Christianity, market-minded church growth confounds one of the religious beliefs oldest dualities, the contradiction of living in the world without conforming to its ways, as Paul puts it in Romans 12. Megachurches at once reject the world and go in in it by seeking to win the lost and wow the consumer at the same time.