Velvet Elvis pgs.96-105, intro & “Unleashing a Monster”

There are large portions of this section that seem mostly pointed towards pastors and other church leadership positions.  Advice from someone who has ‘made it’ and seen what the dangers are.  Valuable advice, but I can’t help but feel that it detracts overall from the tone and purpose of the book.  More of a segue that seems to point to his anticipated audience, when all along it seemed as though his ideal audience was someone much different.

Be that as it may, I simply want to comment that some of what he describes here are just some of the problems with the mega-church model that has been much ballyhooed in the last 20 years or so.  The idea that if we just super-size church, it reaches some sort of critical mass for a chain reaction to keep going and going seems fundamentally flawed.

It doesn’t seem to be Biblical, for starters.  And while that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s wrong, it does leave me to wonder whether the drive for bigger is mostly a drive for ego.  How much better are people ministered to when there are thousands of them than when there are dozens?  How many people slip through the cracks in a mega-church?  I have no desire to ever lead a church that large.  Should we start heading in that direction, I’ll start advocating to plant another church instead.  I believe firmly that church works best when it’s relationally-based, rather than program-based.

That being said, I absolutely *LOVE* how he describes what he and his friends wanted church to be.  A place that people wanted to come, looked forward to coming to.  Not a marketing driven entity, but something where the Holy Spirit could fire people up in a way no human program could ever do.  A place for questions – sometimes with answers, sometimes with no answers. A place for prayer.  Continuous, constant prayer.  Alone, in groups, corporately, prayer. 

Church as it has come to be defined in America is a curious thing.  Come and sit and stand and sing and chant and respond and sit and listen and give money and move up to the altar and sit back down and sit and stand and go home.  Very unidirectional overall.  The pastor preaches and the people receive.  Of course, this has great validity.  But does that mean that it should be the only direction of communication in a church service?  Do we honestly have to wonder why unchurched people would be so freaked out and turned off by this sort of process?  Why would anyone *want* to come to something like this? 

How could it be different?  What would it be like if people were grappling with Scripture together and guided towards understanding?  What would it be like if prayer were a vital, unscripted part of the service rather than simply the formalized recitation it is in all too many churches? 

How do we make church a place people want to be, instead of a place people feel badgered into being?  A great question.  I’d love to visit Bell’s church to see how he does it.  I fear that perhaps a great deal of it is just based on his personal charisma.  But maybe not.

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