There was the dot.com bubble and, more recently, the real estate bubble, markets that grew and grew until they they burst. Some experts are saying that we may be in for a megachurch bubble:
In the 1970s, only a handful of churches drew more than 2,000 people on Sundays. Now they number in the thousands.
But the collapse of the Crystal Cathedral near Los Angeles, which is being sold to pay off more than $40 million in debt, has prompted fears that the megachurch bubble may be about to burst.
Most megachurches — which earn that label around the 2,000-attendance level — are led by baby boomer pastors who soon will hit retirement age and without suitable replacements in the pipeline. And some fear the big-box worship centers with lots of individual programs no longer appeal to younger generations.
Skye Jethani, a senior editor of Leadership, a prominent evangelical magazine for pastors, compared megachurches to the real estate market of a few years ago.
“If you asked people back in 2007 if the housing market was doing well, people would have said yes,” he said.
Jethani said megachurches have become so big that their economics are unsustainable. They often have multimillion-dollar mortgages and hundreds of staff members. That works while a church is growing.
But churches often shrink when a longtime minister leaves, Jethani said.
“If you are a church of 400 people and you lose 200 people, you can still keep going,” he said. “If you are a church of 10,000 and you go down to 5,000, you may not be able to survive.”
The article goes on to quote other people who deny that megachurches are creating a bubble ready to pop. What do you think?
HT: Tim Challies