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Author Topic: Evangelicals overtaking mainstream denominations  (Read 16356 times)
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« Topic Start: November 18, 2007, 11:15:42 am »

We've mentioned from time to time that membership in traditional, mainstream churches has consistently dropped.  In contrast, Evangelical church membership has grown substantially (in some places giving rise to the "mega-church" phenomenon).  I was curious as to why you folks think this is true.  What do the Evangelical churches have that traditional churches do not? 

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« Reply #1: November 18, 2007, 11:58:00 am »

What do the Evangelical churches have that traditional churches do not?

Passion.  Mainline churches have it all sorted out.  They are comfortable in their faith and with their god.  They can afford to be liberal and to believe that if it all comes down to love then even the non-Christians are loved, and they tend to put compassion ahead of the more fiery hallmarks of their faith.

Evangelicals get excited.  I think they are a little less certain of themselves than other churches.  They see 'the right way' and insist that everyone must be brought to it.  They attract people who want to work and labour for their faith, and who want to keep score.  They believe more deeply in hell and want to save others from it as a way of saving themselves as well.

It is almost traditional for Evangelicals to have mis-spent youths and 'suddenly saved' stories.  They seem to be almost all converts, even when they started out in that denomination.  Conversion is a deeper experience for them than simple faith and they feel fulfilled when they bring to other people.

I think Evangelicals view passive faith as apathy.  They want to be excited, moved, outraged, ecstatic, about their faith, and for that you need constant 'new' people.  They have scriptural instruction to find and bring in those new people, so they can fulfill their own needs while being true to their scriptures.  I'm pretty sure salvation and conversion come before compassion for them.

*outside observer viewpoint - I've never been Christian, and those of my family who are are United or private, much calmer people.

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« Reply #2: November 18, 2007, 06:25:23 pm »

We've mentioned from time to time that membership in traditional, mainstream churches has consistently dropped.  In contrast, Evangelical church membership has grown substantially (in some places giving rise to the "mega-church" phenomenon).  I was curious as to why you folks think this is true.  What do the Evangelical churches have that traditional churches do not? 

This isn't as true as it used to be. Growth in some for the more conservative evangelical denominations has slowed. Also, their numbers seemed to only compare with Protestant denominations -- never with Catholics.

One of the reasons these churches grew so fast is that they adopted modern things like having their services on TV very early. Also, they had a very simple theology for the most part and stressed the parts of it that would appeal to a good-sized segment of the American public -- instead of challenging people to change on issues where Christ had a different position than is popular in America. Mega-churches seem to be popular because they do EVERYTHING from religion to social groups to (in some cases) fast food and stores under one roof. Also, they are so long that people can be more or less anonymous and that appeals to many people.
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« Reply #3: November 18, 2007, 07:46:41 pm »

Mega-churches seem to be popular because they do EVERYTHING from religion to social groups to (in some cases) fast food and stores under one roof. Also, they are so long that people can be more or less anonymous and that appeals to many people.

We have a mega-church here that advertises on the radio constantly as "a church for people who don't like church". I was even pondering checking it out just for curiosity's sake until I went to their website and found out that they are very evangelical. I think alot of the mega-churches probably operate the same way: reel people in by appealing to the masses and getting them through the doors, then holding onto them with the many different ministries, groups, and events they have....all the while, the message gets out to all of this "new blood" and maybe even if the message isn't comfortable, the surroundings are.
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« Reply #4: November 18, 2007, 09:19:21 pm »


I think it's because with mega churches they have everything there, convince (in a side note wouldn't having a store in a church be against what is in the bible...not that a lot of those churches actually USE that book). Also, again with the mega church, they are flashy and keep our attention. America now has the collective attention span of a ferret, you want them to pay attention dazzle them. Granted this isn't true for everyone, just a good portion.
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« Reply #5: November 18, 2007, 09:23:23 pm »

We have a mega-church here that advertises on the radio constantly as "a church for people who don't like church". I was even pondering checking it out just for curiosity's sake until I went to their website and found out that they are very evangelical.


* snip *



Does your local MegaChurch have Halloween celebrations, or do they view celebrating Halloween as devilry?

We have one here (though smaller than ones I've seen on TV located in the South), and the church members have a big Halloween affair every year for the children.
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« Reply #6: November 18, 2007, 09:27:12 pm »

What do the Evangelical churches have that traditional churches do not?

In addition to what's already been said, I'd have to throw in the fact that the Evangelical churches tend to have very charasmatic, dynamic leaders who know how to appeal to a wide audience and still maintain a very down-to-earth attitude. 

Relative to some demoninations, the Evangelical church leaders are still fairly accessible to the members of their churches.  Billy Graham springs foremost to my mind, since he's a local resident in this area.  When his wife died, I talked to so many average, run of the mill people who had stories about meeting him and his wife and the kind things that one or another of the couple had personally done. 

I can't imagine someone saying "Ya know, when I was little I can remember going to the Pope's house with my mom. He used to play peek-a-boo with me." Yet, these are the kinds of things you hear about the Evangelical ministers in this area (including and especially Graham).  That kind of personal accessibility has a great appeal for some people. 
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« Reply #7: November 18, 2007, 09:52:02 pm »

(in a side note wouldn't having a store in a church be against what is in the bible...not that a lot of those churches actually USE that book).

Let's see, Jesus got crucified because...

A. The Romans and Jews were agents of Satan and needed Jesus out of the way so they could continue living in an evil world.

B.  The Romans and Jews didn't know God and they didn't know any better.

Or

C.  Jesus caused a riot at the Temple by overturning the money changer's table.

I think your typical fundie would pick either A or B.

Now to get back on topic, I agree with what everyone above has said.  Right now I can't contribute anything of my own but I will when I think of something.
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« Reply #8: November 18, 2007, 09:57:05 pm »

C.  Jesus caused a riot at the Temple by overturning the money changer's table.

Oh I agree that wasn't a reason he was crucified, but still, they seem to love the parts like in leviticus that says "A man shalt not lay with a man as he does with a woman, it is an abomination" (or something to that effect) and eagerly ignores "My temple is a house of prayer, and you have turned it into a den of thieves" (again side note, I ALWAYS hear the voice of Jesus from Jesus Christ Superstar saying that line)

Sorry for the OT, it has been something that I have pondered. Too bad koi is not around or I would ask her.
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« Reply #9: November 18, 2007, 10:21:25 pm »

Let's see, Jesus got crucified because...

A. The Romans and Jews were agents of Satan and needed Jesus out of the way so they could continue living in an evil world.

B.  The Romans and Jews didn't know God and they didn't know any better.

Or

C.  Jesus caused a riot at the Temple by overturning the money changer's table.

I think your typical fundie would pick either A or B.

Now to get back on topic, I agree with what everyone above has said.  Right now I can't contribute anything of my own but I will when I think of something.

Actually, Jesus wasn't perceived to be too much of a threat until the money-changer thing. Yeah, he was popular, yeah, the pharisees were jealous, but he wasn't actually considered to be dangerous until this episode. This view is not popular with the fundies, however.
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« Reply #10: November 18, 2007, 10:32:21 pm »

Relative to some demoninations, the Evangelical church leaders are still fairly accessible to the members of their churches.  Billy Graham springs foremost to my mind, since he's a local resident in this area.  When his wife died, I talked to so many average, run of the mill people who had stories about meeting him and his wife and the kind things that one or another of the couple had personally done.

Billy Graham comes from a different era. Billy Graham didn't go around condemning people and puffing up himself and his followers the way many modern TV and mega-church preachers do. Also, he was VERY inclusive when he held a crusade -- just about any Christian Church that wanted to participate could not just evangelical churches and certainly not just fundie churches. I was amazed to see the amount of advance prep work involving local churches that went on to perpare for his visit to San Antonio some years back.

While I disagree with his theology, I can respect Billy Graham (just as I could John Paul II). In fact, he'd be welcome at dinner. That's something I can't say about the vast majority of tele-evangelists and mega-church preachers.
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« Reply #11: November 19, 2007, 08:26:03 am »

We've mentioned from time to time that membership in traditional, mainstream churches has consistently dropped.  In contrast, Evangelical church membership has grown substantially (in some places giving rise to the "mega-church" phenomenon).  I was curious as to why you folks think this is true.  What do the Evangelical churches have that traditional churches do not? 

A lack of structure and high ritual, if I'm understanding the division you're making correctly.  I think these days there's a lot of attraction to things that give you a lot of wiggle room to personalize, and whether it's really the case or not people percieve traditional denominations like the Catholic church as having a lot stricter standards than the Evangelical churches do.  I think people also tend to look at the higher-church ritual and see something ooky and spooky and hard to understand, and therefore boring.

I'll take a side of "the Evangelicals have passion", too.  I think that's a false perception, though.  I wish I had my Heinlein handy; either Jubal in Stranger or Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love makes a point somewhere about Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy and how ecstacy and passion are incorrectly percieved to belong only to the latter.  Something about how there is as much ecstacy in the devoted nun kneeling quietly in prayer as in any Dionysian orgy, or something similar.  I don't think the traditional denominations have less passion than the Evangelicals, if you get right down to it; I just think their expression of it is something that many people don't understand as an expression of passion.  But the key thing for your question is that they don't see it as passion, and thus think of the Evangelicals as having more passion.

I hope any of that made sense...
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« Reply #12: November 19, 2007, 11:59:58 am »



* snip *


I don't think the traditional denominations have less passion than the Evangelicals, if you get right down to it; I just think their expression of it is something that many people don't understand as an expression of passion.  But the key thing for your question is that they don't see it as passion, and thus think of the Evangelicals as having more passion.

I hope any of that made sense...

I agree completely. People who come from cultures which emphasize emotional reserve in religious matters, are sometimes deeply suspicious of Christian Evangelical "passion". Some of it just seems melodramatic and frankly fake. True religious devotion, for some of us, is deep in your heart, private, and shouldn't be worn upon your sleeve for drama's sake.

The jumping up and down, and crying out, "Save me Jebus!", doesn't convince me that you're any more devout than someone engaged in quiet and orderly prayer. More power to you if that's your preferred form of religious expression...just don't expect me to be impressed by your flamboyant display.

But that's just my opinion.
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« Reply #13: November 19, 2007, 06:52:42 pm »


That's precisely the kind of thing that cause a huge rift in the church I grew up in. Very quiet, conservative, inward-looking Protestants. When in the mid-70's the "new" minister started holding what were disparagingly called "hug fests" by those who didn't care for them (my parents included), the congregation split down the middle, pretty much. It took YEARS for that to heal over--long after that minister had been called to another church in another state, and through *several* other ministers serving my home church. I think now it's finally calmed down, from what little I still hear.

I was very saddened by it all. I had a few friends whose families were "on the hug bus" and we kids just kept on keepin' on--it was our parents who had the real issues.

Sorry for that little tangent, just thought it might prove relevant somehow.
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« Reply #14: November 20, 2007, 01:00:39 am »

We've mentioned from time to time that membership in traditional, mainstream churches has consistently dropped.  In contrast, Evangelical church membership has grown substantially (in some places giving rise to the "mega-church" phenomenon).  I was curious as to why you folks think this is true.  What do the Evangelical churches have that traditional churches do not? 

Mega-churches and their almost compulsive need to enthusiasm are the perfect environments for cults of personality. Hey, you get one guy shouting louder than everyone else and he gets to direct the mob. Tongue

(Sorry, but evangelicals bring out my high Presbyterian background. We didn't even clap at my church. The one guitar-toting "stummy strummy la-la" minister we had we only endured because there wasn't anyone else in the area available. Have you ever tried to lead a round in a group whose mean age is 68?  Cheesy)
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