a $130-$150 million downtown worship center for a church with an average attendance of less than 3,000. I believe future generations of evangelicals may look back at this event and consider it the event that ended an era.
The definition of a mega-church is 2,000 or more people in average weekly attendance. I would argue there is nothing morally wrong with mega-churches constructing massive and/or plush facilties, particularly if the church refuses to take upon herself unreasonable and unservicable debt. There are plenty of other churches for Christians to attend if they disagree with their church's decision to build larger and plusher buildings.
There is, however, a need for evangelical pastors and leaders of large churches (numerically) to take a step back and evaluate a desire to enter into a massive building program. The pendulum is swinging back toward churches creating loose organizational structures in order to faciliate a wider array of ministries. For the next few decades, those evangelical churches that will continue to grow in numbers and Kingdom influence are those churches that spend less on facilities, learn how to worship in mulitiple venues and at various times, and focus more on building a network of effective small groups that collectively do missions both locally and globally. The climate and culture of the evangelical church has changed. Any church that focuses on large in-house productions, massive buildings, and ministries more conducive to "come and recieve" instead of "go and give" is in for a surprise.
Let's call it the Evangelical Fiscal Cliff.
Churches that have borrowed to build massive facilities are behind the proverbial eight ball. They must continue to focus on sustaining and maintaining the organization (utilities, repairs, staffing, and publicity to bring people into the high dollar facilities for "special events"), instead of empowering people to do the work of the ministry away from the buildings. The new evangelical culture is about going and doing. The new wave of Christianity is about serving, not receiving. Churches who are trapped into maintaining buildings built for "come and see" special events are going to struggle.
Because the world is flat, young Christians can pull up on You Tube and watch something ten times better than anything they will see performed on their local church platform. What next generation Christians are interested in is CONNECTING. Those churches that focus on discipleship through expanding small groups and involving their members in local and global missions are the churches that have healthy futures.
Things may eventually swing back to the other direction, but I don't think it will be in my lifetime.