WHY DID CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, LV BECOME A MEGA CHURCH?

For years I have heard Christians criticize mega churches for being too liberal and not preaching the Bible as God intended. I go so long and then feel the need to again defend large churches.

As a small traditional church, our church board decided that every Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. we would meet and pray for God’s vision for Central. We did this for three straight years, 1986, 1987 and 1988. We also had an all church prayer time. Someone would meet at the church and pray for an hour until someone else would take over and this was done around the clock. We were always seeking what God wanted our mission to be. To this day, I feel assured this dedication to prayer and our church’s vision was one of the most important things we have ever done at Central. From these different prayer meetings, the board unanimously believed our vision was that our church should change from being a traditional church, largely made up of traditional Christians who voiced a concern for lost people but their concern seldom translated into action, to becoming more evangelistic. With a few exceptions, it appeared the church had lost their passion for reaching lost people and lost people stayed away. Was there another city that had more lost people than Las Vegas? Were we being called to reach them?

Two of those years I was the chairman of the board. I am well aware of the board’s concern for receiving from God what He wanted our church to be and do. For those who are critical of churches with a different vision for ministry than theirs, may have never gotten up early once a week for three years meeting at the church and spending time praying and asking God for a vision for our specific church. In addition, we had a group of lay people who gathered and were also praying during this time and they continue to this day.

Some criticizing, thinking all that church leaders were concerned about were numbers. When you realize that approximately 50,000 lost souls have accepted Christ as their savior at Central, numbers are important. When you understand that we also have approximately 750 meeting weekly in recovery groups being freed from addictions and sinful living, you must consider that maybe God is involved and we are following the vision He has given us. For those who disagree with our belief that it is okay for sinners to not be okay and that they are welcome into our fellowship, they feel comfortable that they will be accepted. Many churches do not make non-believers feel welcome. Our family has been members of twelve different churches due to our many job transfers. My father-in-law and two cousins were ministers of a number of churches.

For those of us living in Las Vegas, we see many people who live life with little hope. Is Christ interested in reaching any of these people? We have lived here since 1974 and most churches were making little effort to reach these lost people. What we were consistently reminded of; was Christ’s commission to preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15 – “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”) As a small traditional church we were attracting very few seeking salvation. What would be required to reach these lost people? As a board, the consensus was we had to change our services to make it comfortable for unchurched people to attend and then come back again and again.

It was determined that we had to change our music. It was proposed by the music team that we needed to go from a piano and organ to a small band with a faster pace. When we added drums, some old timers believed the devil had taken over the church. Many unchurched people started coming and older members started leaving going to more traditional churches. Those Christians leaving were going to other traditional churches while we were seeing new people converted and growing spiritual. Many of those who were unchurched and became converted said it was the music that kept them coming back. There were some things we had to learn to overcome in order for the Holy Spirit to change the lives of so many people over the years.

The hardest thing for most of us to overcome is our self-centeredness. If the service is not what we are use to, then it is not spiritual and Biblical. The two greatest commands are to love God with all of our strength and others as ourselves. It is this love for others that must take precedence over what we want. However, we believe that God also wants those Christians who struggle with a mega church concept to help others churches grow and become stronger. Where mega churches are located you will find many small churches have become more spiritual and meet their needs. We are created with a competitive spirit and that spirit can make us all more spiritual. I have learned that God uses adversity to move people into different jobs and different churches. Every time problems arise, people leave. Other churches benefit and some new churches are started. All seem to fit into God’s plan.

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This is a verse that many may find difficult to understand. Bad things can happen to anyone. Why should we think that only good things happen to Christians? God not only works to make us happy but sometimes allows negative things to make us better people with a purpose to serve Him and others better. I have seen God often take a bad circumstance and turn it into a long-term good or useful purpose. As Christians we must learn to accept, not resent, pain and persecution because God is with it and has a purpose for it. When bad things happen we are to trust in God with a new perspective and a new attitude that will help us through our dilemmas and stress. God’s purpose for us is never an afterthought; it was planned prior to our birth. I have learned that every time I encounter a negative experience is to ask God: What am I to learn from it? Each time the negative experience has been of help later on.

Matthew 9:10 – 13 – “Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

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2 Comments

  1. Hannah

     /  March 16, 2014

    Thanks for helping me from a different nationality and a different generation to understand the modern generation and the mega churches and it’s purpose!

    Reply
  2. Excellent insight Don. The part about God using those who come, grow, and then move on, whether to start a new church or to go on to a different church and help them grow, is well said, and is exactly my belief as well. Glad Central has wisdom like yours within it. God bless, brother.

    Reply

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