The suburban megachurch is a much criticized phenomenon these days. I’ve certainly been raised in the era of the sub-meg and have experienced it firsthand as a pastor. I’d like to think I’ve seen the good and the bad. And I do think there is more good there than some have been willing to grant.
As I read blogs and books by those of my generation I find the suburban megachurch being blamed for most of what ails evangelicalism. I wrote a post about this. Sometimes it seems as though the SUV driving, soccer crowd is beyond the reach of the gospel. That’s why I was glad to find this interview with Ed Stetzer. I’m glad to see him point out that no segment of society is more to blame than others when it comes to serving the world’s system. In response to the question, “Do you think suburban churches are selling out to consumerism instead of making disciples?” Stetzer replies:
Of course. And so are urban and rural churches. Consumerism is the bane of our world, not the bane of the suburbs. People who think that there is not consumerism in the city have never lived in a real city. I lived among the poor and they want their needs met just like anyone else — that is not a suburban thing, that is a depravity thing. The difference is that in the suburbs people have the means to express their consumerism outwardly.
I think it is worth guarding against the temptation to judge a ministry based on our perception of it’s inherent nobility. The guy serving for years among inner-city young people may find his work to have been wood, hay and stubble if he has failed to confront the worldly thinking of his hearers with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Another guy meeting weekly with the children of the cultural elite could be bringing the foolishness of the cross to bear on their lives in a way that leads to radical life change.
The problem in every context is human depravity. And the answer to that problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ which is just as offensive and just as much foolishness in every part of our society.