The Mall Where You Talk to God


| November 20, 2002 Issue


A ccording to management guru Peter Drucker, megachurches are "The most important social phenomenon in American society in the last 30 years." In the Minneapolis-based alternative weekly City Pages, David Schimke examines life at Grace Church, one among many 2,000-plus member churches that may be reshaping the practice of Christianity in America today.

While many churches struggle to fill their pews, megachurches are scrambling for bigger spaces to accommodate their ever-growing congregations. Grace Church is one of about 25 Protestant churches in the country with a worship space that can seat 4,500. Grace and others like it offer state-of-the-art worship facilities that often include many other services under one roof: professional child care, Christian rock, chemical dependency programs, bookstores, health clubs, and food courts. The church services are orchestrated to perfection and timed to the second, complete with sophisticated lighting, video monitors, and glass-enclosed skyboxes. Megachurch-goers "tend to be college-educated, solidly middle-class suburb dwellers" who are drawn to the church's brand of "spiritual me-firstism" that generally emphasizes easing personal suffering and finding salvation through Jesus rather than doing good works or community outreach.

Megachurches have been undeniably successful at acquiring members through emphasizing traditional values and capitalizing on today's consumer mentality. In the words of one megachurch pastor, "If you have a full-service sort of church where the message is friendly, and the music is what they want, it's like Burger King - you get it your way and you get it cheap."
--Erica Sagrans
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