I saw it and was amazed. It was gigantic, like a tunnel digger or bridge builder. A massive structure in itself of grand design. To start, it took a lot of skilful people, engineers, making sure that everything was ready, the fuel tank was full, the pressure gauges were set, all the dials were at the right places. All the operators in position. Many checks and rechecks, like a jumbo before takeoff. Once the machine was started it needed to be fed at one end to produce its result at the other. Not enough raw material and the machine would shut down.
Maybe it was a factory, not a machine. With many employees and a very good product. Sliced bread.
Almost anyone can make their own bread, but sliced bread is very convenient. And a factory that supplies millions of people must be fed well with raw materials. It's mechanised mixers and ovens need people to keep them running. It needs to work around the clock.
Sadly, some of the smaller bakeries are forced to close in the aftermath of such a succesful grand factory like this.
But what is the purpose of the factory? Is it primarily to feed people or to make a profit for its owners? Some would say both.
But what if the owner was already well off, or chose to lead a spartan lifestyle. What if the owner was particularly generous and wanted to provide his product at a minimal price?
But what if it wasn’t a bread factory but rather a biscuit factory. Bread is a staple, but biscuits are a luxury. Again people can make their own biscuits but most prefer the convenience of shop bought biscuits. Apart from anything else they have a great shelf life.
To entice people with that brand of biscuits they need special ingredients, a great product and, of course, advertising. This is also because there are competitors, or maybe this is a new company trying to break into a market already saturated. So they have to present their product in a new and original way. There would be no possibility for a new business getting a foot in the door without being professional in every respect, including public relations, advertising, packaging, health information, and attention to customers.
Would the company warn customers about their product being potentially unhealthy, and that it is best used sparingly? Or would they be tolerant and politely silent with regard to customers over indulging, giving the individual the entire responsibility of self control?
And what of celebrity endorsements? Would this be sought and paid for? Would they be honest, genuine with the product presented realistically? After all this is how industry works. Would they be satisfied to reach a stable turnover, or would they branch out, franchise, become international?
But this is not a machine, this is not a factory, this is not a company. This is a church, a mega church. It is a multimedia machine, a brand, an investment. It's mechanism is vast and complicated, needing and feeding many, many employees, and needing many thousands of attendees and their regular gifts in order to continue operating.
Pray for the big churches.
Their presence alone is a stumbling block for both those in their midst and those looking on from afar.
May their witness be independent of their needs.
But also try some home made bread.