This week I learned that a mega-church that I attended for many years was shutting its doors. This was a church that grew from a small traditional church, into a multi-campus organization with thousands of worshipers every Sunday. At one point they decided to sluff off the shackles of denominational affiliation, and they struck out on their own. I believe that, despite being a high point of membership and activity in the church, that it was the beginning of the end.
Although I left this church almost a decade ago, I still have friends and acquaintances who were connected. But even they slowly drifted away to other churches as the years passed. A slow decline came to a sudden demise when recently, the church tore itself apart from the inside. I don’t know much about what happened, except for what has been published in the media, but it sounds like there was a large disagreement between leadership and the laity. This disagreement caused everything to finally degenerate into nothingness. A large portion of the church body broke away to form their own group, and those that were left couldn’t sustain a large multi-campus ministry.
In talking about this with my friend Wes today, he made the poignant comment that, “The problem with protest institutions is that they NEVER stop protesting – eventually they eat themselves alive.” That sentiment is exactly what I saw in decades of study of Christian history. If you don’t like the church that you’re a part of, go join another one, or start one of your own. It’s a philosophy that is alive and well in the Evangelical world, especially with independent churches that have no affiliation to a larger body. That is exactly what I feel happened here as well.
I haven’t been to this mega church in a decade, but it is still a bit sad to see it end the way that it did. There were a lot of good people there, with good and kind hearts. Thankfully, many of them have found homes elsewhere, and are continuing to minister. Even the mightiest can fall, and none are immune possibility of the cycle of destructive protest.