This chapter commences with the observation that Pentecostals historically have never been particularly engaged social or politically despite the social challenges faced by their communities. Largely this was because of their focus on their hope for the ultimate resolution of eternity to be too deeply and systematically concerned with the hardships faced in the here and now. Furthermore, they were concerned that engagement with any sort of ‘social gospel’ would distract them from their central call to preach the ‘full gospel’ salvation. The chapter explores the sea change in which Pentecostals megachurches endorsed social activism via the rise of ‘progressive Pentecostals’ and what this has entailed.
This chapter seeks to understand the growth and dynamics of Calvary Temple (CT), a megachurch founded by Rev Satish Kumar in India. The chapter argues that growth and significance can be understood in terms of the multi-faceted processes of globalisation and in particular: global, ‘glocal’ and local factors. In analysing these three factors, I suggest that the global factor seems to have taken centre stage in recent times because CT’s phenomenal growth has given it a voice in the global arena – both amongst the fraternity of Pentecostal churches as well as with US Christian politicians who hold religious freedom close to their hearts.
This chapter argues that, contrary to commonly accepted views, megachurches enjoy a long history in Protestantism. That history can, for example, be traced to the sixteenth century Huguenot architect Jacques Perret who revealed the early Protestant vision for a large, multi-functional worship space which was eventually realised. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries further connections between present day megachurches and the past came with revivalism which provided the motivation for Protestants reach the masses and the Institutional Church Movement that created the infrastructure. The chapter also considers the demographic shifts that occurred following wwii, leading to the proliferation of megachurches in post-war America.
This chapter details the central place that revivalism has in the success and advocacy of megachurches. Invariably the emphasis is on that fragmented movement which has emphasised revivalism, that is, Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement (neo-Pentecostal) which has given birth to a number of unique but over-lapping ‘streams’. The chapter commences with definitions of revivalism before considering the evidence of church growth under the activities and theology of the movement and provides examples of some major revivals with a particularly focus on those of the late twentieth -early twenty-first century.
In discussing examples of megachurches from around the world, this chapter explores the close connections between such churches’ engagement in popular culture and their strategies for expansion. The chapter argues that two ethical approaches to ‘performing the mega’ can be discerned: ‘enclaving’, which involves drawing, social, and ritual boundaries around behaviours of those who are already members; and ‘encroaching’, which involves explicit and often aggressive attempts to move into and appropriate secular realms of discourse and culture. Overall, this chapter indicates the subtleties of engagement and motivation among believers who are committed to inhabiting a space of agency that lies on the border of redeemed and unredeemed arenas of action.
Megachurches in Canada need to be understood in the context of significant religious change, most notably the decline of the historical churches, shifts in immigration, growing numbers of people who say they have no religion, and the relative vitality of evangelical congregations. Most megachurches in Canada are evangelical, charismatic, and some are new immigrant congregations. This chapter offers an overview of religion in Canada with attention to evangelical congregations and the growth of megachurches, a summary of the Canadian Large Churches Study, a case study of a Canadian megachurch, and some theoretical reflections on megachurches in a changing Canadian society.
This chapter investigates the nature of education as provided by megachurches as institutions. It proceeds by sketching out the characteristics of congregational education in general terms before considering megachurch provision more specifically. In particular, the chapter explores the impact of Sunday worship and how beliefs and values are socialised through music, ritual and preaching, as well as the videos and branded material. It also considers the role that small groups play in very large churches and in especially different kinds of discipleship courses. The study also illustrates the ways in which megachurches demonstrate links to more formal educational practices.