Monday’s Mtg: Mega-Churches’ Effects On U.S. Politics

I’ll have no opening presentation this week (pause for cheering).  I know little about the mega-church phenomenon.  I just know they matter, to a lot of people and to our politics.  I have learned in researching them a little bit, however, that they are not all the same.  A mega-church usually is defined as one with 2,000 regular (not just on paper) members.  Catholic churches are not included in the definition, even though there are a lot of very large diocese.   Maybe it’s because they have a common liturgy.  Some mega-churches are affiliated with mainline Protestant denominations, but most are evangelical Protestant.  Some are part of large, well-known evangelical sects, like the Southern Baptist Convention.  Still others are either unaffiliated/independent or associated with a well-known pastor like Joel Osteen or Michael Beckwith.  There can be hundreds of churches in these mega-pastors’ networks, like Beckwith’s New Thought churches.

Anyway, I’ll have some of this summary information in my back pocket, and will trot it out as needed.  See the links below for a lot of the information I was able to find.  But, I really want to hear what you all think on this one, starting with what those of you who went on our little field trip to The Rock church thought of it or of any other mega-church you’ve been to.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –

  1. What is a mega-church?  Which denominations have a lot of them?  How many mega-churches are there and where are they?  Are they a waxing, waning, or stable phenomenon?
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  2. What are your personal impressions of The Rock or of any other mega-churches you have visited in the past?
    1. The Congregation:  What kind of people do you think go there?  Why do they go there?
    2. The Ministry:  What cultural, social, and (if any) political views do these churches express or reinforce?  How “political” are they?
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  3. What kinds of political activity is legal and appropriate (ethically, in your opinion) for a mega-church to engage in?  Historically Black churches and progressive denominations led the civil rights and other liberal political movements.  Is what mega-churches do politically any different?
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  4. Are there progressively oriented mega-churches?  If not, why do all/most mega-church political activity in support of conservative and/or Republican political causes?
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  5. Has the Republican Party set a trap for itself by allowing the Christian Right – including many mega-churches – to become so closely associated with the GOP?

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LINKS –  

I’ll see 3-4 of you in church tomorrow and the rest of you on Monday night!

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One response

  1. James H. Zimmerman | Reply

    Unfortunately I can’t attend Monday as I have a program conflict at SDSU.
    However–you probably won’t be surprised to hear–I find the whole mega-churches phenomenon appalling, particulary as regards the political influence they seem to have.

    I don’t know that I could bring myself to attend one. My own preferences for church, which I very rarely attend anyway, are more traditional, like Episcopals for example They are also very liberal. I am a high-church agnostic, you might say LOL.

    Back in the 60s, liberal Christians were quite active politically. Is this no longer true?

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