Depending on vast financial resources and creditworthiness, American giant churches are offering local communities a wide array of services ranging from residential compounds and sports villages to limousine services, not to gain profit but to convert people of other faiths, The New York Times reported on November 23.
“We want to turn people on to Jesus Christ through this process,” said Pastor Karl Clauson of the ChangePoint ministry church.
Clauson, who has led the ChangePoint church for more than eight years, said the vast “businesses” are primarily aimed at meeting the economic needs of people.
“We don’t look at this as economics; we look at it as our mission…We definitely want to use these efforts as an open door to the entity that we feel is the author and creator of abundant life – Jesus,” he said, “It’s a tough balancing act.”
Clauson’s church, which has a 4,000-member nondenominational Christian congregation, has helped develop and finance a sports dome with a 400-metre track in the municipality of Anchorage, Alaska. The sports dome, for example, is a way to draw the attention of people to the church’s religious programs.
First Assembly of God Church has a 180-bed assisted-living centre, a private school for more than 800 students, a day-care centre for 115 children, a 22-acre retreat centre; and a food service.
“We try not to discriminate in doing community service,” Doug Rieder, the business administrator of the church, said. “There are Muslims and other non-Christians here, of course. And we do want to convert them, no doubt about it – that’s our mission. We don’t discriminate, but we do evangelise.”
According to a Times’ analysis, there are up to 1,300 giant churches in the United States, which have business interests in a miscellany of commercial fields, including aviation and investment banks, operating with the stated purpose of reaching out to the communities, Christian and non-Christian.