Megachurches and Social Engagement

Public Theology in Practice


This book is the first detailed academic study of megachurches in the UK. In particular, it explores the nature and significance of social engagement by megachurches in the context of London. The research contains empirical case studies of two Anglican and three African diaspora Pentecostal churches. As well as exploring the range of social engagement activities provided by these churches, the study offers explanations in term of theological motivations and the influence of globalisation. Subsequently, the book outlines the importance of the findings for the relationship between church and society in the contemporary context, addressing the implications for social policy and practice. The book advances discussions in public theology, megachurch studies, Pentecostal and Charismatic studies and ecclesiology.

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Mark J. Cartledge is Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Centre for Renewal Studies at Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, USA. He is a priest in the Church of England, theologian and scholar of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity.
Sarah L.B. Dunlop is Lecturer in Practical Theology at Ridley Hall, a Church of England training college in Cambridge, UK. An active member of the Ecclesiology and Ethnography Network, she is known for her work in pioneering visual ethnographic methods.
Heather Buckingham is Director of Research and Social Policy at the Church Urban Fund, Westminster, London. She holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy and is an Honorary Fellow at the Edward Cadbury Centre at the University of Birmingham, UK.
Sophie Bremner is a Lecturer in the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. She holds a PhD in International Development with expertise in the anthropology of African Pentecostal Christianity.
"The rise of megachurches in the latter part of the twentieth century is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of global Christianity. Opinions differ as to their constructive contribution to the betterment of society. In this groundbreaking book, a team of scholars has collaborated to produce the most substantive empirical study of the megachurch phenomenon and their social engagement to date. This book is highly recommended!" — Clifton R. Clarke, Assistant Provost and Associate Professor of Black Church Studies and World Christianity, Fuller Theological Seminary.
"The co-authored Megachurches and Social Engagement both identifies a gap in the literature and goes a long way to fill it. The gap is the absence of work on an increasingly important phenomenon - the growing number of megachurches in Europe, not least the ten in London. The response is an empirically driven, theologically informed and carefully written account of five of these churches paying particular attention to their involvement in social engagement. I recommend it warmly to a wide variety of audiences both within the churches and beyond." — Grace Davie, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Exeter.
Preface XI
List of Table and Figures xiii
 1 Introduction
 1.1Aim, Scope and Contribution of the Study
 1.2The History and Context of Evangelicalism in the Church of England
 1.3African Pentecostalism in London
 1.4Theoretical Fields: Public Theology, Megachurches and Social Engagement
 1.5Research Methodology
 1.6Outline of the Chapters

Part 1: Theoretical Fields

 2 Megachurch Studies
 2.2Megachurches in the usa
  2.2.1 A Megachurch Typology?
  2.2.2 Megachurches and the Religious Market
  2.2.3 Megachurches and the Mainline
  2.2.4 African American Megachurches
 2.3Megachurches in the South
 2.4Megachurches in Europe
 2.5Megachurches in the United Kingdom
 2.6Explanations of the Emergence of Megachurches
 3 Public Theology, Social Theory and Social Engagement
 3.2Public Theology
 3.3Changing Society, Changing Church
 3.4Faith and Social Policy: Concepts and Context
  3.4.1 Conceptualising the Relationship between Faith and Social Policy
  3.4.2 Mapping the Contemporary Policy Context
 3.5Defining the Churches’ Social Engagement
 3.6Sociological Perspectives on the Churches’ Social Engagement
  3.6.1 Types of Service Provision
  3.6.2 Understanding the Tensions
  3.6.3 Faith and Social Capital
 3.7Understanding the ‘Why’: Theology, Social Theory and Ecclesial Practice

Part 2: Empirical Studies

 4 The Church of England
 4.2Description of Holy Trinity Church, Brompton
  4.2.1 The Parish
  4.2.2 History
  4.2.3 Current Vision
  4.2.4 Worship Services
  4.2.5 Alpha
  4.2.6 Global Reach
 4.3Social Engagement
  4.3.1 William Wilberforce Trust
  4.3.2 Alpha in Prisons
  4.3.3 Caring for Ex-Offenders
  4.3.4 Homeless Drop-in
  4.3.5 Homeless Winter Shelter
  4.3.6 Recovery Course
  4.3.7 Money Course
  4.3.8 Crosslight Debt Advice
  4.3.9 Radical Hospitality
  4.3.10 Community for the Elderly
  4.3.11 Marriage and Marriage Preparation Courses
  4.3.12 Parenting Children and Parenting Teenagers Courses
  4.3.13 Post-Abortion Healing Course
  4.3.14 Bereavement Journey
  4.3.15 New ID (Eating Disorders) Course
 4.4Holy Trinity Church, Brompton: Summary and Emerging Themes
 4.5Description of All Souls Church, Langham Place
  4.5.1 Historical Background
  4.5.2 Contemporary Vision
  4.5.3 Worship Services
  4.5.4 Fellowship Groups
  4.5.5 Christianity Explored
 4.6Social Engagement
  4.6.1 Homeless Ministry
  4.6.2 Community Centre
  4.6.3 Engaging with Central London
 4.7All Souls Church, Langham Place: Summary and Emerging Themes
 5 African Diaspora Pentecostalism
 5.2Description of Kingsway International Christian Church
  5.2.1 Location, Context and History
  5.2.2 Local and Global
  5.2.3 Congregational Numbers
  5.2.4 Leadership and Organisation
  5.2.5 Denomination and Worship
 5.3Social Engagement
  5.3.1 Educational Initiatives
  5.3.2 Careers Counselling
  5.3.3 Homeless Ministries
  5.3.4 Christmas Hampers
  5.3.5 Prison Ministry
  5.3.6 Care Home Ministry
  5.3.7 Other Activities
 5.4Kingsway International Christian Church: Summary and Emerging Themes
 5.5Description of Jesus House for All Nations
  5.5.1 History and Location
  5.5.2 Congregational Numbers
  5.5.3 Spheres of Influence
  5.5.4 Inter-Church Relations
  5.5.5 Denomination and Worship
 5.6Social Engagement
  5.6.1 The Novo Centre
  5.6.2 Food Bank
  5.6.3 Christmas Activities
  5.6.4 Christians against Poverty
  5.6.5 Football Academy
  5.6.6 Prayer Walking
  5.6.7 Volunteering: A Call to Serve
 5.7Jesus House for All Nations: Summary and Emerging Themes
 5.8Description of New Wine Church
  5.8.1 Location, Context and History
  5.8.2 Congregational Numbers
  5.8.3 Leadership and Organisation
  5.8.4 Denomination and Worship
  5.8.5 Ministries
 5.9Social Engagement
  5.9.1 The John Wilson Pantry
  5.9.2 Christmas Activities
  5.9.3 Community Outreach
  5.9.4 Prison and Immigration Ministry
  5.9.5 Care for the Elderly
  5.9.6 Overseas Mission
  5.9.7 Other Activities
 5.10New Wine Church: Summary and Emerging Themes

Part 3: Explanations and Implications

 6 Theological Motivations
 6.2Description of Findings
  6.2.1 Church Activities
  6.2.2 Volunteers’ Motivation
 6.3Theorising the Findings
  6.3.1 The Theory of Godly Love
  6.3.2 Discussion
 7 Globalisation and Social Engagement
 7.2Globalisation Theory
 7.3Globalisation and Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity
 7.4Global Anglicanism
 7.5Globalisation and Megachurches
 7.6Megachurches and the Global City of London
  7.6.1 The African Diaspora Pentecostal Model: A Bridge-Head
  7.6.2 The Anglican Model: Parish Life and Discipleship Training
 7.7The Significance of Globalisation for Social Engagement
 8 Implications for Church and Society
 8.2Ecclesial Practice-Informed Public Theology
  8.2.1 A Relational Faith
  8.2.2 Discipleship, Transformation and the Common Good
  8.2.3 Scale, Structure and Social impact
 8.3Implications for Churches and Church Leaders
  8.3.1 Language and Story-Telling
  8.3.2 The Scope of Social Engagement
  8.3.3 Power and Empowerment
  8.3.4 Resources and Collaboration
 8.4Implications for Social Policy
  8.4.1 A Relational Approach
  8.4.2 A Values Approach
  8.4.3 Specific Recommendations
 9 Conclusion
 9.2Towards an Ecclesiology of Social Engagement
 9.3Significance of the Study and Areas for Future Research
All interested in Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity and in particular the emergence and role of megachurches in contemporary global society, and especially the significance of social engagement by the churches.
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