Are They Ever Big Enough?

Sure, there are plenty of things we all spend money on that could go to starving children… it’s not like Christians are the only ones guilty of this. But it’s hard to ignore how much excess is in some of these churches, especially when pastors constantly preach against materialism and greed.

If they need to try this hard to draw people into their buildings, they’re practically admitting their message isn’t good enough on its own.

(via Reddit)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Erp

    I find the ones preaching for greed and material goods (aka Prosperity Gospel) to be worst.

    • Anonymous

      Seems mega churches tend to skew that way. God wants you to be happy. God wants you to be prosperous. Praise God, because he is blessing you.

  • Bob Becker

    Hey, c’mon H:  if you’re putting on a show, you need a big stage and theater seats for the audience, que no?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

    Man. My first thought was ‘So many seats, so many butts, and not a brain in sight.’ Is that prejudiced of me?

  • Zac

    Could make a decent theatre though.

    • Edmond

      It DOES make a decent theatre, that’s the point.

  • Anonymous

    As Nietzsche said, the cathedral is the tomb of god.

  • Izzy Leonard

    Even the pastors of churches like that are rarely so brazenly hypocritical. That is the kind of place where they preach the “doctrine of prosperity.” To their minds the fact that they are prosperous is proof that god has blessed them, i.e. approves of their actions.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I immediately got a vision of Jesus using a bundle of ropes to drive everybody out of the temple. I don’t think he’d be pleased to see this.

    Look what they done to my song, ma
    Look what they done to my song
    You know they tied it up in a plastic bag
    And they turned it upside down ma
    Look what they done to my song.

  • BenFromCA

    MEGA-CHURCH
    Saving Folk Is God’s Job
    We Just Handle His Finances

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I can kinda see the point for having such huge churches if the capacity is needed. If your church is popular enough to have thousands in regular attendance or able to regularly hold events that reach thousands in attendance it’s only logical to get a space that can fit them.

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      Churches are businesses that don’t pay taxes.

  • Anonymous

    Tax free too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      them paying a fair tax would curb these excesses *and* help the needy.

  • David B.

    As one Christian explained it to me…

    In Mark 14 a woman annointed jesus with precious oils she had bought, and when the disciples said she should have given that money to the poor Jesus rebuked them and said that the poor will always be with us, while the woman had done a good thing in preparing his body for death. In other words we should use our resources to minister to people’s spiritual health, as the woman did, rather than their physical needs, as the disciples wanted.

    I like to remember this, and other times I’ve heard “the poor you shall always have with you” used as an excuse for people and churches spending on themselves first as prime examples of how people use religion to excuse their behaviour rather than guide it.

  • Tenleycherie

    Jesse Duplanis (sp?) is one of the worst…diamond bracelets during his sermons on TBN!!

  • Tenleycherie

    Jesse Duplanis (sp?) is one of the worst…diamond bracelets during his sermons on TBN!!

  • Christina P.

    And
    Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and
    bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and
    the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written,
    My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den
    of thieves. – Matthew 21:12-13

    It’s in Mark and Luke too, three different accounts of the same tantrum about greed in the temple that I’d wager no one likes to bring up in the superchurches.

    Score another one for hypocrisy- then again there’s so much of it in Christianity that another instance is hardly shocking…

  • Annie

    What I find interesting about these megachurches is that they often lack much that would identify them as actual churches.  I was in one a couple of months ago.  There was no altar, but rather a stage.  Above the stage was a giant TV screen (with several screens facing the side “pews”).  I had to look for a bit before I found the crucifix.  It was a humble, simple cross made of rough wood that was stuck off in the corner.  It looked so out of place, as it was dwarfed by the huge, shiny interior of the space.

  • the captain

    This was one of those things that they tried to explain to us in Catholic school, but not in a satisfying way.  I wondered why our church needed statues and a marble altar and all that, and the answer was that a nice church will draw more people in who will then become Christian and therefore the world will become a better place.

  • Jim Thomason

    Literally every single time I see a church I think, “Wow. What a tremendous waste of resources.” I’ve accidentaly tweeted that sentiment at least twice.

    My wife and I took a long weekend to Columbus, IN a few years ago. The architecture there is amazing, due to Cummins Diesel financing to bring in various famous architects to build famous buildings. They’re quite proud of their churches.

    We took an architecture tour, which was pretty neat. And the tour guide just kept…pointing….out….churches. Maybe a dozen or more.

    I kept leaning over and making remarks.
    “We could have opted to cure cancer, but instead built this lovely gothic cathedral!”
    “Instead of feeding the poor, we have this beautiful Presbytarian church!”
    “Local children go without books, but look at this gorgeous spire!”

    My wife finally hit me and told me to shut up.

    • Annie

      “I kept leaning over and making remarks.
      “We could have opted to cure cancer, but instead built this lovely gothic cathedral!”
      “Instead of feeding the poor, we have this beautiful Presbytarian church!”
      “Local children go without books, but look at this gorgeous spire!”

      I read this five minutes ago… and I’m still laughing.

  • Simon Davis

    The picture you are showing is Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. While it is host to the weekly sermons, it’s also one of the many venues for the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willow_Creek_Association

    Per wikipedia it cost $73 million to build: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willow_Creek_Community_Church

    Based on their two organizations’ published annual budgets as well as the fact that they play host to multiple weekly sold-out events as well as being central venue for an annual conference of over 100,000 it makes absolute sense that they would own and invest in good infrastructure. Granted, they have a bigger target audience and we don’t share their goals (to put it mildly), but at an organizational level what they are doing is excellent and we should be taking notes rather than ridiculing them.

    • Anonymous

      The problem with these kinds of things is that their main goal is to make money for the pastors and owners. Not to serve the spiritual needs of the people (that’s just a means to an end) or to help them with their problems. It’s really just pure exploitation.

      And because the pretend to be churches, they pay no taxes on their insane profits

  • Anonymous

    There’s something about a church with the word “mega” in it that makes them too big to fail.

  • NorDog

    “But it’s hard to ignore how much excess is in some of these churches, especially when pastors constantly preach against materialism and greed.

    If they need to try this hard to draw people into their buildings, they’re practically admitting their message isn’t good enough on its own. ”

    ***

    Let me state right up front that I don’t like Mega Churches, so please don’t think this is posted as a defense of that.

    Why is it assumed that the church in question is not feeding the hungry?  I have no idea if they are or if they aren’t.  But the simple assumption that they aren’t may make for a snarky punchline on a demotivational poster, but it is an assumption, and likely a bad one.

    Regarding pastors preaching against materialism and greed, I’m pretty sure those doing so would NOT be megachurch preachers.  My understanding is that megachurches tend to the “Prosperity Gospel” in which everyone is supposed to get a lot of loot.  So while preachers in some places do preach against materialism and greed, you’ll likely not see any do so at the church in the photo.

  • Alex

    “My theme is alwey oon and ever was: Radix malorum est cupiditas.” — Chaucer

    It’s amazing how little has changed over centuries…

  • ff42

    If I’m not mistaken (ceiling pattern matches) this is the interior of the (relatively) new LDS conference center (http://lds.org/placestovisit/eng/visitors-centers/conference-center) and (http://lds.org/Static%20Images/PlacesToVisit/new/CCAud2_Detail.jpg)

  • Ann Onymous

    Sell the Vatican, Feed the World. ‘Tis on Youtube.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X