The Mecca Mentality
Imagine you are a Muslim, you have but one place you must go to before you die. ‘Mecca’ it is the single mos holy place on the face of the earth. So you decide that you are going to give everything you have to go there right? You leave your life behind, pack up and move across the world to get to Mecca. You are a good Muslim right?
The problem is that this is a mentality that is all too common in the church today. We put certain places on a pedestal. We make them holier than they really are. we make our own personal meccas. This is a trend that concerns me greatly. I see people all over America, and the world selling everything they have and leaving everyone they know to pack up and move across the country to go to a certain ministry. There are several that come to mind for me when I think of this, and you probably have several in mind yourself.
People are totally building their lives around these ministries. Committing to move and give 5, 10, 15, or more years of their lives to be in a specific ministry. Now I do want to make a solid delineation, if you are going somewhere to go to college, or be trained, that is different. College, schooling, or training implies that you will return home after you have been trained. However many never come home. They move, and become engulfed in the ministry. It overtakes them.
So you might wonder what is wrong with this, perhaps you are someone who has moved across the country to join a ‘mecca’ ministry. Well, the thing about the Muslim’s pilgrimage to mecca was that they weren’t to move there. It was a trip to see the site, but once they had seen and experienced it, they went back to their homes. Many Christians never go home. This is how certain ministries have grown to thousands upon thousands. it hasn’t been their dynamic evangelism, but the fact that people have moved from all over the world to be there.
In the Bible, there is only one place we were ever commanded to make pilgrimage to, and that is Jerusalem. In the Old Testament there were three feasts that were considered to be ‘pilgrimage’ feasts; Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). In these three feasts the Hebrews would travel down to Jerusalem for various reasons.
So why is the “Mecca Mentality” such a problem to me? It’s because of the spiritual roots I see behind it. People leave home to join a “Mecca” ministry. They relocate to a new city to join a new ministry. suddenly this ministry has 1,000 or more people all wanting to be there.
The Mecca Mentality Destroys The Local Church…
There are 2 main problems I have with this. First is the fact that it destroys the local church. Several of these ministries are known for their worship, and even have schools for worship. This causes worship leaders to leave home and travel to these ministries. This would not be a problem if these worship leaders were going for a short season to get training and then returned home to better serve the local community, but they often become engulfed by the system. This causes some of these ministries to have as many as 50 or more worship teams involved. But then the local church back home is without your gifting and your anointing. God has placed us in certain places for a reason. You have talents, gifts, and an anointing that can help bring a breakthrough in your region. If you pack up and move to mecca, your region will have to work that much more to get the breakthrough.
Now I understand that some people are called to leave home and settle in a new land, just like God told Abraham in Genesis 12. However I believe deep in my spirit that many who move are not doing so because of the “Calling of God” but out of their own will, heart and desires.
The Mecca Mentality is at its root a form of Idolatry.
This leads me into point Number two. The “mecca mentality” is a form of idolatry. You might really want to shake your head here, but wait and listen to what I have to say. You see, often people move because they see a dynamic ministry, with a strong anointing, or powerful impact. Heck sometimes, we just see a ministry as being ‘cool’ Moving there is not always the call of God, but our desire to be involved with the cool church.
We often look around ourselves and see the same old boring church, and then look to a ‘mecca’ ministry and it seems so much cooler and better and more anointed, so we decide we want to be there. Or we see the anointing there and decide we want that anointing. We put the place on a pedestal because we see it as cooler, or better than our own place. This is Idolatry. You might not realize it because it is subtle idolatry. It’s not like having a big Golden calf in your front yard, or a collection of Hindu statues. But it often is a form of idolatry. You look more at the ministry and the things happening there than you do at what God is saying and doing in your own life.
Did God Really Say?
I know that God desires to change the world. He wants to make us radical unashamed Christians that turn the world on its head. He wants to give us gifts and talents that would cause others to be Jealous and turn to Christ. However, If it is God’s plan to change the whole world, why would he call everyone to the same 10 Churches. (I used 10 cause its a round number, I don’t have 10 specific ministries in mind.) God wants to distribute his gifts and callings throughout the whole Body of Christ all around the world.
Really? No I mean it, Really?
Before you go and pack your bags and move across the country, ask yourself. When you decided you are sure, ask again. When you are fully convinced, ask God to confirm it with witnesses. Not just those who already support and know your planning it, but people who aren’t ‘in the loop’ Imagine you move and give 5 or 10 years of your life when God didn’t really say to do it. What if he wants you to go for six months to be trained, and learn something new, but then come back and use that new fire to help ignite your home community? Be absolutely sure. Remember that most of these ‘mecca ministries’ do not need you. With 50 worship leaders, will you really be the hinge-pin of God’s plans? But what about that little church a mile from your house that needs a new worship leader, or is looking for someone who will mentor the youth and pastor their youth ministry?
You Will Be Assimilated… Resistance is futile.
Yes, I am a fan of star trek, and just quoted it. But this is what I often see from people who have become part of a “mecca ministry’ suddenly all they care about is the thing that church focuses on and if you are not a part of that ministry, or have a different focus from that church, you obviously aren’t an on-fire Christian. This happened to me once when I mentioned I was going to Faith Bible College to a girl I met at a picnic. She attended a different school which is more popular and well-known. She scoffed at me because I was going to the ‘wrong school’ until a mutual friend that knew both of us started asking me about some of my classes. Then suddenly the girl became interested. Why? Because I was studying something she thought was interesting, but never had the opportunity to study at her school.
The crux of this point is that most people will not have the same calling that you do. Often in the ‘mecca ministry’ there is a spirit of pride and arrogance that comes in. It’s a form of elitism that makes you believe that because you go to “Mecca Ministry” you are better than someone who goes to ‘mini ministry’ or ‘local church’
So, my final thought is this, be careful before you set your heart on moving to join another ministry. Make absolutely sure this is the will of God for your life and do it because he says and not for any other motive.