When Faith Becomes Trendy

Megachurches - churches for the unchurched - are sweeping cross the United States. They are a significant part of the church-growth movement, boasting such things as movie theaters, roller rinks, and weight rooms. Strategic marketing and management are key principles for these massive communities, as are commitments to being "seeker-friendly," "audience-driven," and "full-service churches."

In his new book, Os Guiness gently yet thoroughly critiques this new movement. He calls us to dine with the devil...but with critical minds. Guiness first provides a description of "modernity" and then shows how the megachurch movement has uncritically embraced many of its principles. He carefully shows how welcoming current trends often leads to a meaningless relevance, where God is no longer needed.

Guiness examines, for example, the effects of the Enlightenment's exaltation of "rationality." They include many of today's so-called "givens" - for example, numbers as the measure of success and pastors offering mainly executive and managerial abilities. He shows the subtle process of compromise that has produced the principle "the audience is sovereign over the message."

Guiness also presents the dangers of adopting the ideals of "relevance" and "need." He calls us to discern the "fashionable needs" of the age from the ageless need of every human being for the one, true living God.

Dining With the Devil is a prophetic voice to which all megachurches need to listen. It is heavy reading, and thus demands a commitment to keep plugging through. However, even if you are not interested in the church growth movement, this book is a valuable read as it addresses the timeless struggle of living in this world, yet not being of it. To this end, Guiness should be applauded in his very sensitive and balanced attempt to challenge the people of God to

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Sojourners Magazine February-March 1994
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