Andy Stanley, Megachurches, and the Bullying of Christ’s Bride

 

Nate Pickowicz is the pastor/planter of Harvest Bible Church in New Hampshire and blogs for Entreating Favor. 

Andy Stanley

number of years ago, my wife and I were members of a large New England church; a “megachurch.” Now, it’s very important that I differentiate between a “large” church and a “megachurch” as it’s more than simply number of people in attendance each week. This church is what I would consider to be the latter. Some telling characteristics included:

  • It was unashamedly modeled after Willow Creek.
  • It was decidedly seeker-sensitive.
  • It was contemporary, even cutting edge.
  • Copies of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life were never in short supply in the church bookstore.
  • Every ministry had a cool name and an even cooler slogan.
  • They had exquisite coffee.

You get the picture.

After about four years, my wife and I were growing weary, and wondered if maybe it was because we were over-committed in our serving. Maybe it was because of the constant pressure to give more. Maybe it was the slavish devotion to experiential worship. Maybe it was the lack of true biblical counsel that was needed to help us deal with our sin-soaked lives. Maybe it was the pervasive spiritual starvation we experienced because of lack of biblical teaching from the “platform”. Or, maybe it was a combination of all of the above.

After four years, we had had enough, and we wanted out. However, we didn’t want to simply cut and run. After all, we had dear friends at this church.

We had history.

So, I approached one of the pastors and talked with him about my feelings. I expressed my struggle with feeling cold and dry, and my desire for more. I expressed to him our sadness over leaving the Sunday morning worship service feeling completely empty and unaffected. At first, he listened intently and compassionately, but very soon, his kindness turned to scorn.

“Y’know, Sunday morning isn’t all about you,” he said. “If you’re feeling spiritually empty, that’s not the pastor’s fault—it’s yours. You need to learn to become a self-feeder.”

By the end of the conversation, I felt broken. Somehow, I was in sin, but I couldn’t figure out what my sin was. I just felt a weight of sorrow and a profound sense of uneasiness. I felt like I had been kicked in the soul. Thankfully, within a few months of leaving, we were able to heal at a Bible church about 40 minutes away. And while our new church was certainly not perfect, we felt at ease. We were nourished and cherished, and we were able to serve joyfully, falling deeply in love with God and His people.

I recount this story because it is the story of countless believers who are spiritually abused and spit out of American megachurches. Continue reading

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