It was a normal day in early March 2020 like any other. I had been cleaning my home in a tattered t-shirt and old sweats. Suddenly I heard the voice of the LORD say,
I’m done with the megachurch. In the months to come you will see megachurches begin to fold.”
His tone was austere. I stopped. I listened. He continued.
I will call the shepherds into account. I will strike the shepherds, and the sheep will be scattered. Many will fall away. But I will draw My sheep back into My fold.”
Judgment upon His House
For years God had been showing me the judgment that was coming upon the Church — ever since I was a very young Christian — too young to really even understand. The end times and dealings of the LORD with respect to that generation and the end of the age was a constant in the LORD’s discipleship of my life. I never knew when it would happen. But one thing I knew to be true that day — the times He had spent so many years teaching me about were finally here. They are upon us.
God is done. Judgment is coming.
The LORD removed me from the organized church nearly 20 years ago, although at times I had been involved and visited congregations in various areas. I’ve been in many different churches of various denominations and sizes. I learned early on that some of the most dedicated, genuine, authentic, and true followers of Jesus Christ could not be found in the organized church. God was pulling His elect, His chosen, into select families and communities of believers that represented a church model akin to the book of Acts. These are small home gatherings that are powerful, intimate, and which hold true to the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without compromise.
Understanding Pastoral Leadership
People really are sheep. They follow their peers and their pastors. Where one goes, the rest follow. If their peers or pastors are not following the LORD, the sheep are destined to perish. The blind are leading the blind just as the Pharisees led Israel. God condemned them as leaders calling them a “brood of vipers”, “sons of hell”, a “den of thieves” and “whitewashed sepulchers”. They were evil hypocrites. They cared nothing for the flock of God to whom they were entrusted. The only time Jesus proclaimed condemnation was in this instance. No mercy. None whatsoever.
Shepherding is a stewardship of souls.
We need to understand how the LORD feels about His lambs and His sheep, and what He requires of a pastor. Shepherding is a stewardship of souls. It’s an incredible stewardship that demands extraordinary sacrifice. When Peter was reinstated as a disciple and apostle, the LORD gave Him a charge to tend His sheep and feed His lambs. The LORD knew what would be demanded of Him to accomplish that task. Peter had to understand the sacrifice he would pay (see John 21:14-19). He had to be like Christ to accomplish that — giving His very life. That calling required a love for Christ that was unadulterated, unapologetic, wholly faithful, self-sacrificing, and painfully obedient.
Biblical pastoral leadership demands faithfulness and loving sacrifice.
Jesus Christ set the standard.
The shepherd must be willing to lay down his life for the sheep.
This is huge. If most people really understood the call of a pastor, they would never want it. But what we see in the megachurches today is not true pastoral leadership. It’s pomp, pride, power, prestige, platform, position — on spiritual steroids. It’s a complete perversion of what Christ intended and commanded.
Megachurches are marked by
Pomp, Pride, Power, Prestige, Platform, Position, and Perversion
That is not to say true believers are not found in the organized church. They indeed are. However, God has already been and is presently orchestrating a move among believers that is very quiet, discreet, and intensely powerful. He is connecting His body in very strategic ways that can come only by His Spirit where He is free to be who He really is; where His presence, His Word, and His will are honored above all else.
What is a Megachurch?
Although most of us know and understand what a megachurch is, or can recognize one, there are still those who may need clarity. Megachurches hold several common qualities or characteristics. Megachurches can often be known by any of the following hallmarks:
• Massive Numbers — Attendance and memberships often number in the hundreds and even thousands. The goal is always more people. However, they often make followers of men — not Christ.
• Revenue — They require an enormous revenue just to stay afloat and keep their doors open and enjoy a tax-exempt status in doing so. We’re talking embarrassing amounts of money. Shameful amounts. Because of this monetary dependency, money is commonly a hot topic. Members are often manipulated or coerced to pay tithes and offerings with promises of wealth, health, prosperity, and blessing. They cannot and will not be blessed if they don’t. They are taught they will be cursed if they don’t pay.
• Leadership & Lavish Lifestyles — Their leaders are often people who enjoy great notoriety and great wealth, living lavish lifestyles most could never obtain. God calls this “whoremongering”. These are wolves in sheep’s clothing who feed and grow fat off of God’s lambs and His sheep.
• Monetary Manipulations — The money spent paying leadership and overhead costs incur gross amounts. Monies given may never meet the needs of these church members in time of crisis. Benevolence funds may be non-existent. People working and struggling to pay tithes and offerings often do so under the immense weight of obligation, guilt, shame, fear, and even condemnation. There is little to no accountability for where their money is going. They may think it’s advancing the kingdom of God, when in reality it’s only enlarging their leader’s bank accounts and creating leverage for their financial portfolio.
• Expensive Projects — There is always another project. Whether it’s a new sanctuary or a second parking lot, it’s always underscored by the advent of “growth”. As if God needs a bigger building to reach the lost or host His people.
• Entertainment & Hype — Entertainment is the means by which the presence of God is sought, and hype is the means by which it is discerned. Emotions run high, and if they don’t then God didn’t show up. As for holiness, you’re hard pressed to find it. Sin easily hides. However, equipment, staging, lights, sound, and theatrics are a must. These theatrics are a big expense and investment.
• Disconnected Leadership — Leaders are disconnected from the body. They do not know their sheep, and they don’t care to know them. They are hirelings who do not know the LORD, although they profess Him. And they do not know His Word — because they do not preach it. They have little to no accountability to those whom they serve. Those who challenge them are met with disdain, and are often targeted or labeled as “rebellious”.
• Spiritual Abuse — Again, these are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Spiritual and religious abuses abound. People get hurt — often with deep wounds that are not easily healed, or which can lead them astray from Jesus Christ and the true Gospel. Many have left the Church and Jesus Christ because of the abuses within megachurches.
• Control & Domination — Control, domination, and intimidation are tactics often used to subdue their audience or members. People who question the teaching, modes, methods, or means by which these leaders gain advantage are often labeled and targeted to the degree their reputations are damaged and their callings and gifts aborted. Many are removed from service or disallowed certain privileges or opportunities. They are shunned, removed, or punished in a manner that is spiritually punitive and shaming.
• False & Heretical Doctrines — Megachurches and their leaders often preach heretical doctrines that twist or subvert scripture. These are nothing more than talking heads. The true Gospel is rarely preached in these churches. Lots of opining. Very slick acts. Leaders are often very manipulative men and women who have no humility or fear of God in them.
• Compromise — Repentance is not preached. Holiness is not sought. Compromise abounds both in the method and means with the objective of gaining a following. Most never recognize this, however, because of the power and position they hold. Naive, immature, or lukewarm believers who are biblically illiterate become easy prey.
• Aberration of God’s Word — Scripture is abused, forged, and forsaken. It is often twisted, taken out of context, ignored, compromised, or neglected altogether in exchange for talking heads who opine to a captive audience.
• Spiritual Adulteries Abound –– Spiritual power is sought. Spiritual gifts are abused. Signs and wonders are of primary importance. People are not known, tested, or measured by their fruit. Instead, spiritual gifts are the means by which people are known and measured. Therefore, these are often manufactured in abundance. Any spiritual manifestation, tickle, or tingle is welcome and is automatically heralded as coming from God. These are seldom, if ever, tested. The scriptural order for such manifestations are not followed. This opens people to the demonic realm which readily supplies counterfeits of every kind. The Lord calls those who seek signs and wonders an “adulterous generation” (see Matthew 12:39).
• Celebrity Status — The pastor will always have his wingmen. Titles are a big deal. Authority is always at the helm. The platform and pulpit is always a place of power — not humility or service. The end will always justify the means. Pastors are untouchable, unreachable, and therefore unaccountable. They live in secret and their sins hide.
• Followers of Men instead of Christ — They are building an empire — not God’s kingdom. The megachurch’s goal is to amass members and gain their monies. They are not Christ-centered. Nor are they seeking the lost or shepherding people. They are centered upon money which affords their vast empires.
All of this, and more, is contrary to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. These abhorrent practices found within the megachurch are plentiful. These are often rogue organizations that operate in the millions while their members work hard sacrificing their livelihoods to afford their lavish lifestyles and fund pet projects.
God is done. Judgment is coming.
How to Escape the Megachurch
You can escape the megachurch. If you’re involved in a megachurch, especially one that has one or more of the hallmarks listed above, then it’s time to consider your personal relationship with Jesus Christ and where you stand on these points.
If you find the above points offensive to you, then you’re already headed in the right direction. These things offend God as well. When God is offended His righteous indignation follows.
But if you read this and believe the above points are not an issue, meaning you concur with them, then it’s time to wake up and repent.
The LORD has striven with these grievous errors for a long time in an effort to afford His people opportunity to repent. There are a lot of leaders in the megachurch out there who are caught in its tentacles. They want to leave. They want to abort. But they are so deep they can’t. Because if they do, the whole house of cards will fall, they’ll take the whole pack with them, and that kind of liability is not something they can or are willing to sustain.
Finding authentic believers in Christ — the chosen elect — is not easy. There are no signposts. Many of them are hidden in God. They are no longer found in the organized church. They are in the secret places, the highways and hedges, and in house churches all over the world who are preaching the true Gospel and following Jesus Christ intimately. They live powerful lives. But they may also be living very private ones. Like Jesus Christ, they go about quietly in their daily lives. They live and move by the Spirit — not by their own agendas.
Setting yourself apart in this season unto God is going to be key. Finding people with whom you can establish a covenant connection in the Body of Christ is imperative.
If you’re a leader in a megachurch and want to get free — you’re going to have to suffer and sacrifice to do it. It’s that simple. But it can be done. You will probably lose everything. But you will gain your soul.
The True Church
There are good churches out there within the organized church, but they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. There are pastors out there who are shepherding the sheep scripturally, but they are very few in number. Pastoral leadership, when done biblically, is incredibly hard. It demands a sacrificial lifestyle not many are willing to embrace. The spiritual liability pastors face before God is enormous. They are stewards of souls. Pastors find themselves hard pressed with the burdens of their sheep as well as their families. They grow weary. They are often lonely. They strive to speak truth while many of their sheep turn a deaf ear. Finding brotherhood with other pastors who preach truth is difficult as well.
Leading a flock is not easy. Sheep naturally stray. The needs are constant, and often dire. People have issues and hardships in their lives which they find difficult to navigate. Their pastor is the one they seek. However, many pastors today are so far removed — so unreachable — so untouchable — they behave like celebrities. The sheep have virtually no access. This is incredibly sad and perverse.
The truth of the Gospel is unapologetic. True Christianity plays hardball. It’s not a soft message. Unless people are totally sold out for the LORD and they understand their obligation to His Word — they don’t want to hear sound doctrine. They don’t want to hear about surrender, sacrifice, sanctification, and servanthood. They don’t want to hear about suffering and persecution. They don’t want to hear about counting the cost. They don’t want to hear about repentance and holiness. They want to hear about blessings, health, wealth, and prosperity. They want to hide in their sin. They want to play with the world.
Very few can tolerate the truth. The truth of the Gospel message is painful, which is why Christ said to take up your cross and follow Him.
A good sound biblical church is increasingly difficult to find. But they are out there. Pastors who are living and giving 100%, who know their sheep, who know Jesus Christ, and who know the Word of God — and are living it — they are rare. Very rare. Most have been seduced into serving their own appetites and building their own lofty empires.
Leading a flock is not easy. Wolves abound. Pastors are “hirelings” who are supposed to guard and keep the sheep (see John 10). But few give their lives for the sheep. Only Jesus did that, which is why He calls Himself “the good shepherd”.
Don’t be surprised if you struggle to find a sound biblical church with good pastoral leadership.
God is drawing His flock back into His fold. He is establishing His church much like He did in Acts. He is assembling His body, strategically placing believers together in small bands where they can grow together, break bread, pray, love and be loved, do His work, fulfill their missions and destinies, and remain accountable to one another in a safe setting where God is honored, Jesus is LORD, and the Holy Spirit is welcome.
That’s tough to find. And if you can’t find it, it’s time to create it. Begin seeking the LORD and His followers. He’s assembling His people.
It’s time to return to Him and come home. When you do, don’t be surprised to find how few there really are who are following Him.
Cheers & Shalom,
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures | Pixabay