Evangelicals And Big Business
Statements like, "Evangelicalism in America is a business – a big business." That statement sounds so final like the sole purpose of Evangelicalism is to be big business. Most true Evangelicals would mightily object to such an accusation. Kyle spoke of "mega churches" and that there were some 900 churches in America with 2,000 plus attention. That got my attention because I did not understand that a 2,000 member church was a mega church. I actually am a member of such a church, Alamo City Christian Fellowship. I think my church is special, but, certainly not a "big business." Our church does not even pass a collection plate, nor does the pastor "push" donations, especially from visitors. I know that the pastor, Dr. David Walker, would be upset if someone accused the church of being a big business. Big churches produce big dollars from its membership. That is especially true where the members read their Bible and understand giving from a Biblical perspective. The amount of money collected cannot be the sole determination of what makes a church a big business. How does the church use the money? Are the church finances transparent? The classic sign of a "big business church" is secretive financial information not available to the public.
Kyle calls out some preachers and organizations by name as possibly looking more to numbers than God. It's all right to be suspicious about television evangelists. I am. I am always suspicious when I hear a doctrine being preached that I don't agree with, or understand. Not agreeing is one thing, but if it possibly involves apostasy or heresy that puts me on red alert. If it doesn't sound right, I head straight to Apologetics Index to check them out. A cautionary note: When researching on the web always look for About Us, or some similarly titled explanation of who is behind the site. Do you trust them? Kyle mentioned T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Robert Schuller, Joyce Meyer, Jan and Paul Crouch and the Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network, (Sometimes known as The Blasphemy Network). They are all to be found in Apologetics Index. A believer with a question about a preacher, organization or a doctrine would be well served checking out the index. Kyle also mentions Joel Osteen (Houston’s Lakewood Church and televangelist) and Rich Warren, who wrote "The Purpose Driven Life" (Pastor of a California mega church, Saddlebrook Church. His book sold 23 million copies). They are not to be found on the Apologetics Index. As a rule a non-mention means mainstream Evangelical acceptability. Want to know more about our famous local (San Antonio, Texas) televangelist, John Hagee? Check him out.
Personally, my most serious concern about big business Evangelicalism is the Contemporary Christian Music genre. The performers walk a fine line indeed between their proclaimed Christianity and trying to be a paid performer. It is a dangerous profession for the soul. Money and ego are the fatal combination for the downfall of many "Christian celebreties," musicians and preachers.
Modern Evangelicals need to recall Christ’s turning over the money changer’s tables at the temple. He was serious about the relationship of the Father to money. When modern churches make money from their goods and services they need to be very cautious about where they place the tables, what they put on the tables and how Christ is being served by the tables.
I believe Kyle was not correct in his statement, “the white evangelical group has become the most powerful religious force in America...” Check out the Lakewood Church congregation on TV. Look white to you? How about John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church (on TV in many major markets)? One thing I know about modern Evangelicals is that they have finally come to understand that when God tells us to love our brother he means for us to love our brother. You can no longer use race as a divide for religious groups. Ethnic congregations still exist, however, multi racism is a hallmark of modern Evangelicalism and their congregations.