The Mega Church Phenomenon and the Black Church
“An Increase in the Number of African American Megachurches” is the fifth trend that Martha Simmons wrote about in the African American Pulpit Spring Edition of 2007.
T.D. Jakes, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, Charles Blake, and many others are a part of a trend towards Mega Churches. Many African American preachers look toward these churches as models of where they wish to be. But is a Mega Church a good model of church health?
James Massey, in the same issue, brings forth a possible problem in some of these churches by saying:
The problem is their lack of attention, publicly at least, to a biblical or doctrinal foundation in what they publish and what they preach…I have been disappointed with the neglect of central truths of the Christian faith, such as: who Jesus is, why Jesus came, why Jesus died, what salvation means, the problem of sin, and the importance of conversion.
What Massey is stating is the necessity of Christian churches to hold on to that which makes it “Christian” even as it seeks to reach the “unchurched.”
Massey quotes Dr. Shayna Lee who states:
We have approached a new era in American Protestantism where neo-Pentecostal mega churches represent greatest challenge to the traditional black church has ever faced.
These mega churches, often non-denominational, have reduced the resources available in many of the smaller more traditional black churches that are connected often to denominations. These mega churches have often set up their own “denominational-like” structures where they publish their own materials, have their own camp meetings, etc. Sometimes these mega churches have accountability even for their leaders. However, often leaders have no checks or balances to their leadership. They are accountable to no one. Such a situation can cause abuse and corruption.
There are benefits to Mega Churches, but many of these can be obtained from grouping with other churches to gain the benefits. My own bias is that 10 200 member churches spread throughout a city would be more beneficial than 1 2000 member church. While that is my preference, I think that Mega Churches can be beneficial if its leaders are accountable to someone and they hold on to doctrinal foundations. It is my hope and prayer that the traditional Black church will find a way to work with the Mega Churches are we move towards the coming Kingdom.