Over at Irreducibility Complexity, Ian wrote a wonderful post two months ago [hey - it's summer. I'm allowed to be slow...] on How to Start a Mega-Church in 7 Steps.
I have very mixed feelings about what he's written... I'm pretty sure he's right about the content. Of course the plan he lays out is entirely cynical, calculating and businesslike. I am certain that good religion should not be like that (or if I am feeling more skeptical, I am sure that religion is always like that - and when it's not, it is is a matter of incompetence rather than intent!)
For a really sincere religious movement dedicated to inclusiveness, openness, faith, and transparency, much of what seems necessary to succeed in such a large-scale way also seems contradictory to the mission. We want everyone to have a say, and that very democratic process may be antithetical to the kind of bold leadership and decisive strategy that leads to huge congregations. Can't we just imagine the committee meetings trying to decide about whether or not to have a rock band? Each person giving their personal preference about types of music and winding up with a compromise that pleases no one completely...
On the other hand, if religious people are serious about religion in the sense of service to the world and not just to themselves, they ought to be doing everything it takes to include more people. Is this where liberals go wrong? Too much emphasis on making ourselves comfortable and not enough on transformation or service?
Of course, I only want people who have an inclusive religious ethos to succeed. Anything homophobic, doctrinal, repressive, misogynistic, superstitious, abusive, etc. should not be permitted to read Ian's post!
Unitarian, Quakers, Liberal Jews and any other group that is working for true justice and is truly accepting of all - study this carefully!!