Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Top 50 Most Influential Churches

After surveying 2,000 church leaders last year about the fastest growing churches and churches with a weekend attendance of at least 2,000, The Church Report came up with this ranking. Joel Osteen only came in at #5 but give him time. (HT: Kevin Hendricks)

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Danielle said...

I am a former member of Lakewood church. I stopped going in September, 2003, long before moving into the compaq center. Since the opening of the compaq center, I have gone about 8-10 times, all during different service times and times of the year. Each time I have gone, the entire upper tier of seating was closed due to not enough people, and the bottom still had a bit of room. The die-hard Lakewood members attend several services per week. For these reasons, I do not believe the media when they state that 30,000 people attend this church. It can't be any more than 10,000 max. They did not need the compaq center at all. Even in the old building which seated 8,000, there was ample room even during the busiest service. Many in the media claim that Joel OSteen is "popular", but I can't see how he really is. Most people that I have talked to feel intimidated by such a big church, and most mainstream Christians are against his ministry because they feel threatened at the idea of living positively and prosperously. Personally, I stopped going there because of the emphasis on money. But I do still enjoy the positive message.
I hope Joel's ministry stands better of a chance than it seems at the moment!

KP said...

It's interesting to hear from someone who has been on the inside of Lakewood. Thanks for writing, Danielle.

It's quite common for people to attribute others' opposition to something to fear and/or hatred. The most immediate example is the homosexual community's labeling as "homophobic" anyone who objects to its behavior. In the immigration debate, proponents of strict enforcement are often accused of being motivated by racism and fear. Certainly, fear may be in back of a person's opposition to a person, message, or behavior but it's not the only possible motivating factor.

You credit some Christians' rejection of Osteen's ministry to their being threatened by his message. I do think he posese a threat but to the biblical gospel. I'm opposed to his teaching because it's a perversion of the good news of the triune God's gracious redemption of his enemies. The message of the cross is positive in light of our desperate situation as lost sinners, the very situation that Osteen downplays. That being so, I don't share your well-wishing for his work.

Danielle said...

Well, I don't call anti-homosexuality "homo-phobic" (although I do wonder why the same vehement opposition isn't applied to heterosexual's sin like divorce and out of wedlock childbearing, but that's another story). However, I do think that mainstream christianity is threatened by the positivity in Osteen's message. Before Lakewood, I attended "real" christian churches, so i have a pretty good idea of how they work. One of the main goals of chrisitan churches is to get people to think what they want them to think. People who live positively and feel altogether good about themselves and their lives aren't going to change what they think so easily. People who don't are more manipualatable. In my old churches (before Lakewood) it seemed like the main goal was to get anything good out of a person's life by claiming that God's will was NOT your will, and you weren't "really" Christian if you had soemthing positive in your life like a good job or a good marriage. This is why I feel christians are threatened by osteen. As for me, I am not all for him for a completely different reason- the money thing.

Gary said...

This "Top 50 List" is a scam -- there is no poll -- no research. All Jason Christy is doing is scamming Christian leaders to get them to buy advertisements in his fake "Church Report" magazine.

Just like Christy's fake PAC called Impact America, and his fake news service, and his fake dating service that has one member, a Star Trek geek no less.

dconnery2 said...

You wrote, "People who live positively and feel altogether good about themselves and their lives aren't going to change what they think so easily."
I'm wondering how someone who feels altogether good about himself/herself could truly be living the Christian life. I'm thinking the Apostle Paul never got to that point. (see Romans 7)
Oh yeah, and check out that verse where Paul refers to himself as the "chief of sinners".

Dad said...

Check out the source of this list:

Rising Evangelical Star Jason Christy Leaves Trail of Fraud, Associates Say
By Hannah Elliott

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Aug. 1 /ABP/ -- When young, charismatic Christian publisher Jason Christy was tapped two years ago to lead the powerful Christian Coalition, the group's leaders praised him for his ability "to inspire and encourage people of faith to action." But Christy's business dealings -- both before and after his one-month affiliation with the Coalition -- instead have inspired former customers and co-workers to file lawsuits charging Christy with defrauding their Christian businesses.

Christy, 36, who apparently had no previous public-policy experience, persuaded the Christian Coalition in 2005 to place him in one of the most visible and powerful positions in evangelical life. But before the coalition's leaders officially turned over the reins of their 1.2 million-member national lobbying group, they learned of a trail of legal and financial problems that has followed Christy from coast to coast.

Former associates and customers of Christy's many business ventures -- mostly Christian magazines -- say he cheated them out of money and threatened them. At least 10 of them have filed lawsuits, Associated Baptist Press has learned, and others have gotten court-issued restraining or protection orders against the Scottsdale, Ariz., businessman.

Christy says all the allegations are false. He and his supporters say "enemies" are spreading lies about him because of soured business relationships. But critics say Christy is a scam artist preying on trusting Christians.

Christy now publishes The Church Report, supposedly a conservative, national print magazine and web site. He has appeared as an analyst on CNN and spoken at megachurches like Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. He hob-nobs with some of the evangelical elite and still has relationships with leaders in highly respected positions, like the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

This article is continued at Associated Baptist Press News: http://www.abpnews.com/2685.article

Also at The Baptist Standard: http://www.baptiststandard.com/postnuke/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=6646 and

Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/augustweb-only/131-35.0.html