10 Commandments for Would-Be Megapastors

OK, so you want to be a hugely successful preacher, televangelist or pastor? Well, no probs – you can be. All you have to do is follow the 10 Commandments which have proven to be so successful time and time again. Make sure you observe these basic rules and you too can have a megachurch, heaps of attendees, and most importantly, a never-ending supply of healthy weekly offerings.

While I have not actually tracked down these Ten Commandments, I know they must exist somewhere, since they seem to comprise the exact same pattern we see played out in one mega-pastorate after another. These folks all are doing very well indeed, and they all seem to be reading from the same script.

megachurchSo simply follow these ten easy principles and you too can be another superstar televangelist or preacher. Results are guaranteed. So here they are:

1. Never say anything controversial. Just stick to feel-good messages and sentimental, syrupy stuff. You must never rock the boat or stick your neck out. Above all else, you want the masses to like you, and you never want them to feel uncomfortable.

2. Tell people what they want to hear. This is absolutely vital. If you tell people what they need to hear you will soon lose 90 per cent of your audience. Therefore just stick to telling them what they most want to hear. Tickle their ears and feed their desires and you will do just fine.

3. Do not discuss anything theological or doctrinal. Don’t you know that creeds, dogma and theology turn people off like mad? Therefore avoid all this like the plague, and just offer the fairy floss stuff that is so easy to receive, and makes no demands on anyone.

4. Above all, keep people happy. Keep the masses entertained and amused. Always offer the best entertainment around, so they do not need to dish out good money to see pagan entertainment. Get the best PA system, the best rock guitarists, the most razzmatazz, the hippest smoke machines, the coolest strobe lights, and the blackest stage. Hey, if it works for the world, why not the church?

5. Never tell a would-be believer that anything hard or difficult or demanding will come their way. Never mention suffering, hardship, persecution, deprivation, obedience, self-denial, or cross-bearing. Simply focus on “your best life now” and how to be wealthy, successful, get everything you want, and even lose weight for Jesus.

6. Always try to be as trendy as possible. Be cool, relevant and oh so hip. In other words, try to be as much like the world as possible. Go with the flow and just fit in with what is happening in the culture around you. Works every time.

7. Never, ever talk about “negative” things like sin, hell, repentance, judgment, the crucified life, or denying self. That will automatically keep the crowds away. As stated in Commandment One, just accentuate the positive and tell folks happy and cheerful stuff.

8. Always emphasise the easily digestible stuff, like love and mercy and grace. Never speak about the holiness of God, the justice of God, the wrath of God, the requirements of God, the Lordship of Christ, or the obedient life. That is always a turnoff and we no longer need to preach such stuff anyway nowadays.

9. Make sure people think that Christianity is all about them. Make it seem that Jesus died on the cross so they could be happy, self-fulfilled, satisfied, rich, contented and utterly focused on self. Never ever tell people that they must deny themselves, carry the cross, renounce sin, the flesh and the devil, and exist for God and others. Just make it all about themselves, and you will have a megachurch in no time.

10. Never of course speak about any of the hot potato social issues of the day, such as abortion, homosexuality, porn, the war on the family, or other religions and worldviews. That is a sure way to get folks uptight, antsy, and uncomfortable. You sure don’t want to do that. You want them always to be happy, self-satisfied and thoroughly entertained.

So remember, follow these really easy Ten Commandments and you too can have the megachurch of your dreams. You will be featured on the cover of Time magazine; Oprah Winfrey will have you on her show – often; and the secular media will regularly sing your praises. The world will absolutely love you, in other words.

Back to the Bible

Umm, if you happen to think that all of the above sounds a bit out of place with New Testament Christianity, well, you would be totally correct. It has absolutely nothing to do with NT faith of course, and everything to do with worldly, carnal and compromised Western churchianity.

And sadly, everything mentioned above we find in abundance throughout the Western world. How many bigtime churches of today seem to perfectly fit with the ten items mentioned above? It would be laughable if it were not so downright serious.

The contrast with the carnal Christianity of today and what we find in the NT could not be greater. Indeed, I am just now rereading the book of 2 Corinthians, and boy, what a mega-contrast. The life that Paul lived as he served his Lord and pastored his churches looked nothing like what we find today.

Everywhere in this epistle – and elsewhere – we find Paul describing the real life of discipleship, the real Christian life, the real role of a leader, the real call of a pastor and preacher. And it sure does not look pretty – at least by today’s standards.

It is loaded with hardship, persecution, suffering, tears, rejection, grief, opposition and rejection. So let me finish by just offering a few of Paul’s self-descriptions of Christian ministry as Jesus would have it.

-We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

-But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

-We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

-Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:22-30)

This is the normal Christian life. This is what true Christian leadership looks like. This is the walk of the disciple of Christ. Compare all this with what I mentioned above about Western churchianity. I know which one is the real deal, and I know which one I will run with every day of the week.

It is time we got back to biblical Christianity, and reject all the compromise, all the carnality, and all the worldliness we find in so many churches today. Thank God there are many churches still standing strong and remaining true to Christ and his Word. But really, there should be many, many more.

I have to once again conclude with someone who knew all about these matters, Leonard Ravenhill: “If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.”

[1641 words]

15 Replies to “10 Commandments for Would-Be Megapastors”

  1. Thank you Bill, for your message!! John Bevere wrote a book “Good or God” and he hits it hard, just like you. Praise God for people like you.

  2. “and the blackest stage”

    yep, still can’t understand why when Jesus told us to walk in the light we have to worship in darkness.

  3. Over the last couple of decades I have been involved with churches and ministries both large and small. The capacity for growth of these ministries was very much dependent upon the abilities of the leadership, with some being captains of tens and others captains of thousands. Like the stewards in the parable of the talents, each one was given according to their ability. Unfortunately in Australia, most pastors are captains of tens, with too many being readily critical of those who can captain thousands. We are no doubt in a season of separating sheep and goats and I am confident the Lord is well able to build His Church and that there are leaders who are well able to be led by the Holy Spirit to preach the whole gospel, and I have witnessed a shift even in the church I belong to, one of the largest in Australia, to equip the saints with a truthful and challenging message whist still being evangelistic. Many of the small churches in Australia might be presenting a truthful and challenging message, but they are not bringing many to the knowledge of Christ.

    I do not argue that there are some who have used their God-given abilities to build a crowd, but there are others who are faithful and true and are effective for the kingdom. Jesus attracted large crowds and so did Peter, with many falling away, but they did not limit their ministries by claiming quality over quantity as many small-minded ministers do. One larger church of a thousand or more members is usually more effective in ministry, outreach, and caring for the needy than a hundred small churches’ combined ministries. Just because a church or ministry is big doesn’t axiomatically make it less godly. Some have grown because of their sound discipleship and faithfulness to truth. Some have stayed small because of the capacity of the leadership. I would hope that we would still many congregations continue to grow and thrive before the coming of the Lord.

  4. Thanks D’Wayne. That God can be at work in larger churches I never denied of course. The point of the article was simply that one way to more or less guarantee a large church is to water everything down, be men-pleasers, and compromise the gospel – that we see happening all over the West sadly.

    And of course not all large churches become that way by conversions. More often than not it is simply transfer growth. See here eg:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2001/12/12/a-review-of-stealing-sheep-the-church%E2%80%99s-hidden-problems-with-transfer-growth-by-william-chadwick/

  5. The joint author of Pagan Christianity?, Frank Viola was driven to research the history of the “add-ons” to the way Christians do church after finding himself disenchanted with his own experience of life in a mega-church style gathering. In view of the increasing socio-political ostracism to which faithful Western Christian congregations will be subjected, mega-church entities are by virtue of their size, soft targets for any hostile political activism or hostile governments which will arise in future years when our decadent culture cuts more and more of its ties to its Christian heritage.

    There will come a time in Western countries when radical disciples of Jesus of Nazareth will be driven underground by the rise of a militant anti-Christian “tyranny of tolerance”.

  6. Yeah, absolutely on the nail, Bill.
    You said they “all seem to be reading from the same script”. and you’ve probably also equated it to the same acceptable dinner-party recipe: A main course of pop psychology, a little side-salad of Old Testament, but only sparingly, and the tiniest garnish of Gospel, but only when required.

  7. To all

    A common error I see is the trendy use of changing names to get a better type of crowd [ read more seeker friendly ] my long term observations are that where is the reverence for God, the holiness for a creator that dwells in a place of immense size and is not a man nor is of the size of a mortal man, this is very, very clear in 1 Tim : 6-16

    …… who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

    we are told that God “lives in unapproachable light”. The implications of this thought are quite profound. Think about this passage, the only way we can approach God is through his son Jesus Christ I’m sure you have noticed that flowers and trees bend and turn to receive sun light.

    consider that just as the SUN is essential to physical life, so also the SON is essential to spiritual life. God IS approachable through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one can come unto the Father except through Him. But “through Him” we can come boldly into the presence of God (Heb. 10:19).
    While we cannot see God directly, “through Jesus”
    we can behold His glory by excepting Jesus into our lives and actively changing our lives to model the real changes outwardly by changing the inner ways our earthly minds see things, this only comes by bearing the fruit of meditating and sowing Jesus principles in our lives, even more so a person can only do by the holy spirit bringing conviction to a person, fancy light shows and hollywood style productions with booming speakers and so called preachers that use only one verse and then speak a highly psyched up message are fooling millions. Where are the men like Charles Spurgeon ? Smith Wigglesorth ? yes there are many church’s that still preach the full Gospel with heartfelt repentance and then closely shepard their new people with discpline, love and guidance. I have been to one of the largest Mega Church’s in the Hills in Sydney, the head pastor used to often remark that……” if you don’t want to come here and stay and you leave after a while……I am NOT chasing after you …” excuse me ? at what point did Jesus say to not shepard people ? at what point did he stop caring for the lost sheep ? time and time again Jesus said he came to shepard the flock, for leaders and pastors to exhibit those same character traits, we [ leaders ] are called to look for those lost, hurt and need a meal or helping hand by way of a place to sleep or a time for council with some gentle wisdom and a arm around them to tell them they can call anytime.

    Do big Church’s do more help wise ? sure, but also huge responsibility comes with that, even more scrutiny must be applied to church’s that have 3, 10 or 20,000 turn up for trendy worship on a Sunday morning. If 3,000 people turn up how many do you know personaly ? how many will care about you really ? would they know you if you don’t turn up ? or you have been told you have cancer ? would YOU care ?, I certainly would !, I have walked many rough roads in my life alone, tired, hungry, sometimes afraid and been under threat of death, that is when the real character is formed, how many can do that ? walk that ?, so in ending, the church needs to teach that and model that in leadership and not present the buy – a – new 10 bedroom house because you are a christian.

  8. Having just read through Ben Witherington’s review of Bana and Viola’s book, I can see the point of your assessment, Bill. While I am from a strand of Christianity that originally had a great deal of sympathy for Frank Viola and Robert Banks’ call for a radical return to the 1st-Century Jerusalem church’s custom of “breaking bread from house to house”, Witherington does present good historical evidence for his questions about parts of Viola’s understanding of church history from 1st Century to the edge of the Mediaeval era.

    Viola is himself on record as comparing sectarianism amongst any group aspiring to radical Christianity to bad body odour… often more recognisable to others than to the malodorous individual in question! “We” are not “the people” and knowledge shall not die with us!

  9. “Preach not calmly and quietly as though you were asleep, but preach with fire and pathos and passion.”

    -C. H. Spurgeon

    ” There is something worse than holding our silence while the lost of this world run headlong into hell: the crime of preaching to a different gospel than the one passed down to the saints. For this reason, we must shun the gospel of contemporary evangelicalism, for it is a watered-down, culturally carved, truncated gospel that allows men to hold to a form of godliness while denying its power, to profess to know God while denying Him with their deeds, and to call Jesus “Lord, Lord,” while not doing the Father’s will. Woe to us if we do not preach the gospel, but even greater woe is due us if we preachng incorrectly!

    – Paul Washer

    ” You cannot learn doctrine well until you follow the doctrine you learn!”

    -Paul Washer

  10. Dear Bill, I have an 11th commandment for you – Never attend prayer meetings, they are a waste of your valuable time. It horrifies me that some PASTORS never darken the doors of the prayer meeting! and maybe a 12th – concentrate on the young and attractive – ignore the old who are either your most steadfast workers or those nearest to hell because of age. I must watch out that I don’t allow a root of bitterness to spring up here – thankfully not on my own behalf but for some elderly relations who have spent their lives serving Jesus Christ. Blessings to you, Katharine

  11. These are a few sort-of commandments: ‘God is not interested in who puts what where’ and ‘all religions are the same’ and ‘no children in detention’ and ‘no one goes to hell’ and so it goes on. As an aside, a group of Catholic bishops and religious leaders have put an add in the papers (don’t know which papers) urging the government to take the children from detention camps. I don’t see any public advertisement opposing same-sex marriage; is that because God is not interested in ‘who puts what where’; or is it because children in detention don’t attract any flack? I recently asked our parish priest to play the French national anthem at mass as a sign of unity with French Catholic people who were once called the eldest daughter of the church. He refused saying it was a secular song. I suspect the truth is that he would have had to take sides. Didn’t Jesus have something to say on this? Your commandments complete the Modernist heretical view Bill and I thank God for your insight. I hope Catholic religious leaders will peruse your article but as we all know, you can’t teach anything to anyone who knows everything. Blessed be God.

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