Are Megachurces as “Normal” as 300-yard Golf Drives?

As my wife and I were enjoying a casual stroll recently, the subject of false perceptions came about. We spoke at length about how many things which are presented to the public as “normal” are anything but. If anything, they are aberrations.

To prove the point, I alluded to an example I’m well acquainted with: golf. More specifically, the professional golf industry.

I took up the game about a decade ago after being introduced to the grand sport by my father. At this point we’ve played countless rounds together and have enjoyed invaluable father-son time. Adding to our joy, my son has been joining us regularly for the better part of three years now.

Throughout the past decade, we’ve noticed how pervasive certain perspectives have become throughout golf in general. Most of these notions have been filtered down to the golfing public by the professional golf industry. A great majority of these concepts are inherently flawed and have proven to be personally detrimental to many in the game because of these lies that are propagated “from the top”.

Take, for example, one of the most coveted statistics within the sport: the ability to hit a golf ball 300 yards consistently with a driver (traditionally known as the 1 wood) – the equivalent of three football fields distance. The entire industry, from club makers to ball manufacturers and everyone in between, have predicated their business models and marketing ploys to sell consumers on the idea that hitting the golf ball that length with regularity is the gold standard.

To give this perspective mass appeal, they point to the PGA Tour pros who statistically achieve that feat. The implication they have sought to normalize in the consumer’s mind is that anyone who cannot achieve the feat is unexceptional. Yet, in order to reach the goal of hitting it as far as the best, the companies have a solution for the average golfer: their clubs, balls and other assorted peripherals.

The implication is that their products, which are exorbitantly expensive, will automatically produce “tour-level” distance for any user. It’s the strategy that drives golf club and ball sales.

However, if one examines the statistic that these companies and the tour itself (aided by sensationalized television broadcasts) point to as the selling point, it is easy to notice that what they promote as the norm isn’t the standard at all.

Consider that approximately 34 players from an active roster of more than 220 players who compete on any given week on the professional circuit average 300 yards or more from the tee. That’s less than 16% of all pro golfers – far from the norm.

It’s also important to emphasize that the preceding numbers account for the pro game only. Recreational golfers, which compose the vast majority of the golfing world, average 220-yard drives. This makes sense, considering that pro golfers golf for a living and the typical amateur doesn’t. Even then, not all professionals reach the feat consistently.

All in all, 300-yard drives are the aberration, not the standard. Still, this hasn’t stopped the industry from promoting the false notion that they are the norm and it hasn’t stopped the dupes from believing the marketing hype and spending countless thousands on clubs, balls and assorted peripherals.

In the same vein, Christians have been told that megachurches (congregations that attract 2,000 people or more to weekly meetings) are the very definition of “success”. Again, the implication is that any church which doesn’t meet this criteria is an abject failure.

Let’s analyze the numbers to scrutinize the claim. According to Leadership Network (an organization whose unbiblical foundations and creeds have been detailed by Roger Oakland in his book Faith Undone), there are approximately 320,000 Protestant churches in the United States alone. 1,650 of those are megachurches. In other words, only 0.5% of all churches in the States are megachurches.

Contrary to the lies promoted by church marketing groups and the megachurches themselves, 83% of Protestant churches in the US are composed of a congregation of approximately 100-500 attendees. (46% of churchgoers attend a church of 100 or fewer people, while 37% attend a church of 101-499 attendees according to Barna Research.)

Therefore, megachurches are the aberration and not the standard. However, the math hasn’t impeded various pastors from being convinced that their God-given ministries are disappointments and are now vehemently seeking to “grow” their church using strategies that contradict sound doctrine.

True “success” in ministry is defined by the Bible as leading a congregation to the “entire counsel of God” and by pastors personally showing their congregations how to do so. The Scriptures never defined achievement as numerical growth – this is the modern church salesman’s pitch.

To use another analogy, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and others within a tiny cadre of multi-billionaires are not the definition of success, even though they are successful. What about the tons of small business owners who never achieve the status of “millionaire” but continue to provide sustenance for their families and a valuable service and/or products to their local communities?

I hope that the numbers I’ve shared with the reader will help them see beyond the propaganda and ploys.

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