Food 4 Thought By Marcia Dixon

Mega churches: Are they good or bad?

I was recently featured on Ladies Talk, a TV show produced and hosted by comedian and actress Angie Le Mar, and broadcast on Vox Africa (Sky Channel 218), which gives Black women an opportunity to talk about the topical issues of the day.

One topic of discussion was the rise of the mega church, and whether or not it’s a good thing. The question got me thinking, particularly as I’ve attended both small churches and large churches, and had to conclude that mega churches are a good thing on a number of fronts.

A mega church is a sign of a growing church that is effectively reaching out to the community and experiencing success in encouraging people to attend services in order to hear the Gospel.

Mega churches are often well-resourced, meaning that they are not reliant on council or government grants in order to carry out their plans or to finance community services, and their size means they usually have a high public profile, enjoy great influence, and can organise events featuring some of the best Christian teaching around, as well as provide a platform for public figures to address a Christian audience.

It’s sad that people are suspicious of mega churches. I think this is partly because people are conditioned to equate Christianity with smallness and failure, and a mega church turns this view on its head.

If people knew church history, they would know that when Christians burn with spiritual passion, they create major social movements that transform people, impact society and attract a lot of people to church. The rise of Methodism, founded by John Wesley in the 18th century, is a prime example.

It was initially the revival wing of the Church of England, but became a separate denomination upon the death of its founder, John Wesley. Along with his brother, the songwriter Charles Wesley, and the great 18th century evangelist, George Whitfield, John Wesley shared the Gospel, particularly to the poor and to those that society ignored.

Methodism spread rapidly throughout the world because of its missional activity and, alongside spreading the Gospel, Methodism became known for its good works which, over the centuries, has seen it establish hospitals, universities, orphanages, soup kitchens and schools in its keenness to follow Jesus’ command to spread the Good News and serve all people.

Mega churches aren’t without their faults, however; their largeness and wealth can cause both leaders and members to be filled with pride, and their focus to be placed on acquiring status symbols and prestige but, on the whole, I believe mega churches are a force for good.

In this day and age, any church that can attract large numbers of people to hear the unadulterated Gospel deserves to be commended. Let’s hear it for the mega church.


Tories targeting the Black vote

The Conservative Christian Fellowship is currently seeking to build closer ties with the Black Christian community, and recently met with some key Black church leaders.

With elections scheduled to take place in 2015, the Conservative Party has recognised there’ll be some closely-fought seats in certain wards, and the Black vote might swing it for them.

The increasing wealth and entrepreneurial activity within the African and African-Caribbean community, and our desire to play a greater part in the wider society, means that the Labour Party is no longer seen as the Black community’s party of choice. In fact, for many Black Christians, their attitude to life and society has more in common with the Tories than with Labour but, due to the perceived racism of the Tories, they have usually voted Labour. This may well change and, in these exciting times, any political party that wants the Black vote is going to have to work for it, which the Conservative Party seems willing to do.

It’ll be interesting to see the Labour Party’s response.


We need to look backwards to move forwards

Sometimes, when seeking to move forward – whether as individuals, a church or business – it’s good to take a step back and re-connect with our core values. The Bible says as much in Jeremiah 6:16, “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

Reflecting on the values that sustained the Windrush Generation is a pertinent exercise that I believe Britain’s African-Caribbean community needs to undertake, particularly as the third and fourth generation come to the fore.

These values sustained our forefathers, and will sustain us and future generations as we seek to gain a deeper foothold in British society.

These values include:

• Respecting oneself, others and elders

• Treating parents and family well

• Being truthful and associating oneself with positive people

• Being able to think for oneself, and not be manipulated to do wrong

• Not being bad-minded (not be spiteful, malicious, do evil things)

• Focusing on building character, as opposed to creating riches

• Working hard

• Helping the less fortunate

• Serving God wholeheartedly

Whilst we will and do fall short of living up to these values, if we’ve lost sight of them and have taken on some of the negative mindsets and behaviours prevalent in modern society, it’s important to take stock, reflect and ask God for the strength and grace to reintroduce these age-old, positive and life-affirming values into our lives.

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