What's the purpose of going to church service? Is it to feel good? To get entertained? To fulfill a weekly religious/ritual duty?
When Jesus had "church", He would preach and offended the "religious" Pharisees of that time because it was so convicting-sin revealing. Church services are supposed to be "heart daily life" changing-molding time to get your more "right" with God! Also, to get you "charged" or "fueled" up to keep you going through the week. Apply what you learned (sermon, worship, shares/testimonies, etc..) each day of the week, which is why I (Sal) feel (I struggle with this too) "church goers" get bombarded through the week.
Do you ever feel all pumped up after a service? Then you fall straight down and have to "refuel" or "be charged-up" again? Well, we need to learn how to balance and be persistent in our daily walk with Christ! I was watching a preacher speaking on how church goers can sometimes attend church for the wrong reasons. They treat church like a drug to get a spiritual high and if they don't, they get dissapointed!
You love the music during the worship time on Sundays? That's how I was plugged into my local church. However, that wasn't the only reason for awhile. As I grew in my personal relationship with Jesus, I've began to understand other imporant reasons why I attend church on Sundays:
-be a blessing to other believers/non believers through the gifts (natural/spiritual) God has given me
-worshipping God besides doing this everyday during the week
-fellowship with believers
-witnessing to non-believers of the local community and show them this everyday of the week; not just on Sundays!
-build one another up as a team or bigger family in Christ
-see what needs are in the family of believers and other non-christians to see how we can each help/be a blessing to one another
-get a bigger perspective on what our Heavenly Father is doing beside our own little world we sometimes live alone weekly/daily
Below is an article my local (associate) pastor fowarded to me yesterday (Monday, Feburary 9th of 2004), which gave me the inspiration to do this website.
Religion Gets Supersized at Megachurches
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
By Amy C. Sims
Ask Americans what Sundays are for, and many are likely to give you one of two answers: watching sports or going to church.
These days, a growing number of "megachurches" may satisfy both camps, providing entertainment and an uplifting message to crowds so big they rival the attendance at sporting events.
There are currently 842 megachurches -- non-Catholic churches with at least 2,000 weekly attendants -- that host an excess of three million people on any given Sunday, according to the research group Church Growth Today.
These massive holy houses attract churchgoers by the thousands with celebratory services that tout contemporary music, television screens and sermons that aren't "churchy," according to the pastor of the nation's largest church. But critics say the sin-free pep rallies don't encourage personal transformation and reflection, keystones of religion.
Instead of a pulpit, pews and a group of familiar faces found at traditional community churches, megachurches can resemble a campus.
"They are so large you can select the activity that you like," said Ken Woodward, Newsweek's contributing editor who covers religion. "If you want to lose weight Jesus' way, you can join the weight-loss program or join a basketball team ... These churches have so many people they don't just sponsor a team, they sponsor a league.
"Not everybody can afford to join a country club."
At the biggest church in the country, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, Pastor Joel Osteen preaches to some 25,000 people each week -- and sin is not on the menu. Osteen said his goal is to "give people a boost for the week."
"I think for years there's been a lot of hellfire and damnation. You go to church to figure out what you're doing wrong and you leave feeling bad like you're not going to make it," Osteen said. "We believe in focusing on the goodness of God."
Critics say magachurches' party-like atmosphere takes the spirituality out of Sunday services.
"It tends to be a guilt-free, sin-free environment," said Woodward. "These places are a bit too bubbly. ... It's very chummy with God."
Richard Wise, a 20-year member of the small, traditional Wesley United Methodist Church in Union City, Ind., said he finds this type of service perplexing.
"Sin is in life and sin is everywhere, we are all sinners," he said. "If you just leave church feeling good you are missing the whole point. The point is you need a purpose in life."
Wise's church draws about 150 people for Sunday service and he said the size pays off with close-knit relationships and a feeling of community.
"We call on a lot of individuals from our church because we know them," he said. "We visit them when they are sick or take communion or flowers to them."
Osteen defends Lakewood's ways, saying the lively and inclusive atmosphere is attracting a whole new generation of parishioners.
"I have parents tell me all the time that their kids will sit down and watch us on TV or that they want to come to the service because it's simple and something they can understand," he said.
Some Lakewood qualities that appeal to a younger set are "the best lighting and the best sound system," a youth ministry program that attracts hundreds, and every service kicks off with 30 minutes of upbeat contemporary music -- not hymns -- played by a live band.
"It's not a churchy feel," Osteen, 40, said. "We don't have crosses up there. We believe in all that, but I like to take the barriers down that have kept people from coming. A lot of people who come now are people that haven't been to church in 20 to 30 years."
However, those used to a personal touch in their religion aren't convinced.
"[People] can go and enjoy the service but really don't have to participate," said Wise. "But it's that participation that really makes for a good Christian."
While the number of megachurches has doubled since 1998, they still only represent 1 percent of all churches in America, said John Vaughan, founder of Church Growth Today and author of "Megachurches & America's Cities." But he added that many people are discovering that bigger can be better for them, and the variety of service times and activities provides flexibility many modern families need.
"They have multiple staff able to specialize and mobilize people with a diversity of needs. The really large church has a myriad of small groups, which is really where the heart of the church is," he said. "The reason these churches grow large is because they know how to care for their members."
Lakewood's attendance has grown so massive that the church recently bought the Compaq Center, a former sports arena, which is being remodeled to hold an even larger congregation.
"This will be the first church in the country to see 35,000 people," Vaughan said.
The seriousness of traditional churches scared many parishioners away, Osteen said, but the warm hug delivered by megachurches like his is bringing them back.
"I think it's a place of life and victory," he said. "They want to be encouraged and uplifted."
But Woodward said this approach to religion isn't helping parishioners.
"If I'm already a pretty good guy, why do I have to go to church to hear that?" he asked. "Sin really has disappeared from the pulpit. lt's too much of a downer, I'm afraid."
Wise also doesn't agree with the idea of cloaking religion in church in order to boost numbers. "I guess I kind of thought that was what church was about," he said.
"I don't see how you could put God first in your life if all you're going to do is go to church and feel good about being there. I enjoy good music and a good sermon, but what did you really get out of the message?"
more later on....
From : cory m
Sent : Monday, May 23, 2005 8:07 AM
To : firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Who Took Your Place
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:22 PM
One day, a man went to visit a church.
He got there early, parked his car, and got out.
Another car pulled up and the driver got
out and said,"I always park there!
You took my place!" The visitor went inside for
Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down.
A young lady from the church
approached him and stated,
"That's my seat! You took my place!"
The visitor was somewhat distressed
by this rude welcome, but said nothing.
After Sunday School, the visitor went
into the sanctuary and sat down.
Another member walked up to him and said,
"That's where I always sit! You took my place!"
The visitor was even more troubled by this
treatment, but still He said nothing.
Later as the congregation was praying
for Christ to dwell among them,
the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change.
Horrible scars became visible on
his hands and on his sandaled feet.
Someone from the congregation
noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?"
The visitor replied, as his hat
became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye,
"I took your place."
When you receive this, say a prayer.
That's all you have to do.
There is nothing attached.
This is powerful. Just send this to four people and see what happens on the fourth day.
Maybe, just maybe, we can get the world to start thinking of Who took our place.
Do not break this, please.
Looking for a local church?
Denominations (reglious sectors):
Church Bloopers from DavidK on Vimeo
Troy Gash - The Church Game (music video)
"From the CD "Outside The Church Walls" Now on sale... StreetGospelRecords.com"
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