Building Project for First Baptist Dallas
More bang for the buck is the global shopper’s mantra of the century. That is why, even though it isn’t healthy to do so, many people still are “supersizing” their fast-food value meals. Many also are visiting king-size theme parks for more spectacular attractions and superb entertainment, and they are shopping at various membership warehouse club stores for bulk packages of food and drink, and household goods.
As a result, fast-food restaurants that are not supersizing their meals might find it hard to compete with a McDonald’s or a Burger King that is. Then too, the local amusement places, those that do not have hundreds of acres of breathtaking attractions and extraordinary entertainment, also might find it hard to compete with a Disneyland or a Six Flags Over Los Angeles (a.k.a. Magic Mountain) that does have the acreage, attractions, and entertainment. Last, it is obvious that ordinary grocery stores cannot compete with the bulk sizes found in a Costco or a Sam’s Club.
In fact, it is because of our love for bigger and so-called better things that many of us have a difficult time being happy with anything that is the “regular” size. This love for bigger and so-called better things also is the reason why, even though we might not be able to fulfill our dreams, we still long to live in homes as enormous as castles, or long to drive fully loaded full-size cars, or long to be members of mega-churches that offer us all of the amenities found in shopping malls (like banks, coffee shops, bookstores, spas, weight rooms, and so forth).
Concerning our churches, many pastors have adopted a Field of Dreams philosophy—if we build it, they will come. My, my, my, how twisted we have gotten the Great Commission. Instead of The CHURCH going into the world and turning it upside down, the world has come into our institutional church and turned it inside out, which is why many of our churches are now nothing more than a branded product. In these branded churches, we are marketing and selling the Gospel and, by extension, Jesus the Christ, and our consumers (Christian members) are expecting our churches to promote, sell, and distribute our goods and services (the Gospel and, by extension, Jesus the Christ, as consumer options) just like we would promote, sell, and distribute an amusement park, something that entertains, a car, house, food, and so forth!
As Tyler Wigg-Stevenson writes in the article “Jesus Is Not A Brand”:
In other words, people who respond to church marketing approach Jesus as another consumer option. This is first and foremost a problem because it is blasphemy: We are talking about the incarnate Logos, not a logo. Additionally (in case blasphemy isn’t bad enough), this should concern us because of the problems it creates for discipleship. Consumerism isn’t just a social phenomenon—it’s a spirituality. And it comes with spiritual habits and disciplines that conflict with the particular practices of the Christian life. (p. 4)
It is no wonder then that this view of salvation—marketing for selling and distributing—has contributed to why we now are more concerned with building mega-churches that have evangelistic windows than concerned with ministering to people’s spiritual needs by first winning them over with the Good News about Jesus the Christ, and then infecting them with our love for God and our zeal to glorify Him in the world. How foolish it is for anyone to think that church windows can do the Great Commission work that has been assigned to every believer!
While it is true that the Lord can have the rocks cry out His name and/or worship Him, God does not want this scenario to be the norm. Thus, creating windows that have an evangelistic effect—that say to people “come and see” what we have in our church—is not what we are called to do. We ALL are called to be evangelists (preachers and/or teachers of the Gospel) who then make disciples of the saved ones. We must “go and make” disciples of mankind rather than sit and wait for our evangelistic windows to draw into our mega-church buildings those who are on the outside looking inside!
Jesus the Christ says: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:19-20a, NLT). How, then, do we justify using sky-high amounts of money for building mammoth churches? Why are we not putting the millions of dollars earmarked for church building projects toward the advancement of the Kingdom of God on Earth? Are we not supposed to be about our Father’s business? Isn’t God’s business about influencing the people we meet for Jesus the Christ, and about making an impact upon our surroundings, the community in which we live, so that we fulfill our part in the salvation of lost souls and the spiritual growth/maturity of the saved?
When our Lord commands us “to occupy” until He returns, He certainly doesn’t mean for us to be so busy building bigger churches, only for members to sit in during Saturday or Sunday worship services and weekday Bible studies, or just so members can use their own banks, spas, weight rooms, coffee shops, and bookstores, that we merely produce a small fraction of our mega-church members who actually fulfill their evangelistic and disciple-making responsibilities! If this is what the building of bigger churches has come to, then clearly we will have some explaining to do!
For more of “Jesus Is Not A Brand,” please read Tyler Wigg-Stevenson’s January 2009 Christianity Today article in full. Also read Jared Wilson’s “Six Flags Over Jesus” entry on his The Gospel-Driven Church blog, and please read Michael Craven’s May 2009 article, “‘If You Build It, They Will Come’ Ecclesiology,” on Crosswalk.com.