This is a church?

I will leave aside Rick Warren's reasons for abruptly canceling his appearance on This Week yesterday. Considering how bushed the Better Half gets during Holy Week and Easter weekend, I think it is at least plausible that he was simply as tired as he claimed. (It probably didn't make him feel particularly perky to envision being called on the carpet for fibbing rather blatantly about his support for Proposition 8, either.)

What I find striking, rather, is this description from an aide about why he was so darned tired in the first place:
Easter weekend is like the Super Bowl for a megachurch like Saddleback; this year they were expecting upwards of 43,000 to attend 43 service venues and locations offered at 13 separate service times, requiring an intense several weeks of preparation by the pastor and his team.
I find this utterly flabbergasting. This is a church? I've never understood the appeal of a church with the prefix "mega" in the first place. But this sounds like a complete circus. How can one form connections with one's pastor, or one's fellow congregants in church like this? There were twice as many people expected at the various venues than live in my hometown, plus change. What kind of religious community is this, anyway?

Somehow, I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind.


  1. I don't know, have you ever been to mass at the Vatican, it is not like I would ever form any connections to the prelate at any Cathedral, nor do I particularily feel the need to. Attending services in an ancient Catholic Cathedral is a true joy, even if you are not Catholic and can't understand the words.

    To me, it isn't the size that is the issue, but the tawdriness of these mega churches. Utterly devoid of ritual, ceremony and majesty. They are just Sunday carnival road shows in a permanent structure.

    It seems the further you go away from the traditions of the Latin Mass, or Orthodox service (or for that matter Buddhist ceremonies, Orthodox Jewish services, etc.) it starts to become laughable.


  2. The difference between the Vatican and Saddleback (at least in this regard -- there are myriad differences) is that nobody views the Vatican itself as "their" church. (Or, if they do, it's news to me.) People can attend Mass there and experience a truly transcendent service, but they don't consider it their personal congregation. By contrast, the thousands of people at Saddleback consider it "their" church, in all its teeming impersonality.

    And I'm totally with you re: tawdriness. But then, I'm an unapologetic high church Episcopalian. (To me, nothing in all the world can compare to the Feast of St. Francis at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.)