Now that I’m done with this book, I’m convinced that all Reformed pastors should at least skim through it – especially church planters in suburbia! As I mentioned in the earlier two posts on this book, Twitchell, who does not claim to be a Christian (he’s an “apatheist” in his own words) went to loads of mega churches and a lot of “wanna be” mega churches and wrote of his experiences and conclusions. Here are a few more snippets.
“…As I write this in 2006, there’s a new church reaching mega status in this country every few days. Why did they appear so suddenly? For a number of reasons…. Herd mentality is at the heart of fashion, rock concerts, teenage smoking, war, best-selling books, and numerous other endeavors that spread like the flu…. Consumers move in trickles, then droves.”
“Growth itself is a powerful selling tool. As any student of Branding 101 knows, being able to say you are the fastest growing has pulling power. It implies leadership. Leading is not a measure of quality, however, but consumption. Take beer, for example. There’s the leading light beer, the leading imported beer, the leading Mexican beer, the leading German beer, the leading microbrewed beer, and so on. Where taste is hard to measure, the invocation of leadership often substitutes for the real thing, even if leadership is in an unimportant category.”
“As I learned, megas depend on disrupting traffic flow. There is no better advertisement in mallcondo culture than an attraction so powerful that car traffic jams up before it. Very often the church even makes a display out of hiring local police, complete with flashing blue warning lights, to direct the flow, as well as having parking attendants wear headsets like air traffic controllers. To an audience that grew up on rock concerts, nothing is more powerful than a little jostling at the gate.”
If you don’t purchase this book, you should at least check it out (ILL?) from your local library. I didn’t post any of Twitchell’s comments on the first and second great awakenings; I’m afraid too many of our readers would have been quite offended at his penetrating critique of Whitefield and the like.
The above quotes taken from James B. Twitchell, Shopping for God (Simon and Schuster, 2006), 212, 230.