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Black Megachurch Culture

Models for Education and Empowerment


Sandra L. Barnes

This book identifies how church cultural components are created, developed, and used to educate and empower adherents, and whether and how these tools are associated with the historic Black Church. The book is particularly interested in how large Black congregations – megachurches – use rituals found in worship, theology, racial beliefs, programmatic efforts, and other tools from their cultural repertoire to instruct congregants to model success in word and deed. The book’s findings illustrate that Black megachurches strive to model success on various fronts by tapping into effective historic Black Church tools and creating cultural kits that foster excitement, expectation, and entitlement.


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Acknowledgments ix INTRODUCTION The Black Megachurch 1 CHAPTER 1 The Black Megachurch Phenomenon: Influences, Challenges, and Responses 15 CHAPTER 2 Church Culture in Real Time: Worship as an Educational Tool 39 CHAPTER 3 Church Socialization Processes: Each One, Teach Some! 69 CHAPTER 4 Empowerment and Liberation Theologies: The Truth Will Make You Free 105 CHAPTER 5 Programs to Rightly Divide: Black Megachurch Profiles 137 CONCLUSION Black Megachurches and the Future: Continuing to Create Culture 161 Appendix 167 References 183 Index 195 VIII THIS RESEARCH ORIGINATES from my long- standing involvement in Black churches and my interest in how intangible factors such as belief sys- tems and attitudes can dramatically alter people’s lives. In addition to further exploring the understudied megachurch phenomenon, I was interested in focusing on the Black religious experience. Although I believe that a certain degree of mystery will always shroud how the Black community approaches religion, these findings may help to bet- ter understand long-espoused anecdotes and pre- existing notions about large Black churches and the communities they serve. In addition to using a broad methodological lens that includes quantitative and qual- itative techniques, this endeavor attempts to “walk the line” between sociology and theology to consider how Black people and their God communicate in a contemporary Christian space. Because of the nature of this book, I attempted to write such that the information is accessi- ble to a wide audience. I trust that it will be of interest to academics, cler- gy, theologians, laypersons interested in...

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