A Student of History

November 23, 2007

Salvation or the Bottom Line?

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 1:04 pm

An analysis by The New York Times of the online public records of just more than 1,300 of Mega-churches shows that their business interests are as varied as basketball schools, aviation subsidiaries, investment partnerships and a limousine service.

At least 10 own and operate shopping centers, and some financially formidable congregations are adding residential developments to their holdings. In one such elaborate project, LifeBridge Christian Church, near Longmont, Colorado, plans a 313-acre, or 127-hectare, development of upscale homes, retail and office space, a sports arena, housing for the elderly and church buildings.

Is this good?

More here.  See also a Forbes Magazine piece on this issue from Sept. 2007, which begins:

Maybe churches aren’t so different from corporations. World Changers Ministries, for instance, operates a music studio, publishing house, computer graphic design suite and owns its own record label. The Potter’s House also has a record label as well as a daily talk show, a prison satellite network that broadcasts in 260 prisons and a twice-a-week Webcast. New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has a chief operating officer and a special effects 3-D Web site that offers videos-on-demand. It publishes a magazine and holds Cashflow 101 Game Nights. And Lakewood Church, which recently leased the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, has a four-record deal and spends $12 million annually on television airtime.

Welcome to the megabusiness of megachurches, where pastors often act as chief executives and use business tactics to grow their congregations. This entrepreneurial approach has contributed to the explosive growth of megachurches–defined as non-Catholic churches with at least 2,000 members–in the U.S. Indeed, Lakewood, New Birth, The Potter’s House and World Changers, four of the biggest, have all experienced membership gains of late.

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