Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Too Big, Part II

I started my inquiry about when a church might be too big thinking about the large "mega-church" model and connecting that to the religious communities that have a "Central Church".

The Four that come to mind most readily are The Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons), Judaism and Islam.

The Four "Temples" are The Vatican, The Mormon Tabernacle, The Temple (pre-70AD, when it was destroyed most recently), and Medinah that provide a gathering place for the faithful. This might serve as the outside definition of when a "church" is too large. If you can't count the people and the people have a difficult time getting to "safe space" because the "event" is so packed, then the "church" is too large. Please note that I use the term "church" to represent some things it was not meant to mean, like the Mosques in Medinah and the Temple in Jerusalem, as it would traditionally be an affront to the Jewish and Islamic faiths, but it is the term we are familiar with and the concept I am trying to develop.

These "gathering places of the faith" will often time hold people in the tens of thousands. But, they are a model that it can be done, especially for special religious occasions, like we saw with the recent passing of Pope John Paul II and installation of Pope Benedict XVI, or with the "Pilgrimmage" to Medinah required of faithful Muslims, and Yom Kippur and Passover in Jerusalem. In recognizing these gatherings we also realize that they are special events, and not a weekly or monthly gathering of the faithful for worship, encouragement, support and community development, which I think are the hallmarks of "church".

So these are the foremost "mega-churches" in my mind. They are religious communities that have come together to worship and increase the faith. I think an integral part of "church" needs to be accountability. This is the next topic I will cover.


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