Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Megachurch Culture

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Megachurch Culture

Article excerpt

A review of Black Megachurch Culture: Models for Education and Empowerment by Sandra L. Barnes (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 2010. 166 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4331-0908-90) by Eric R. Jackson (jacksoner@nku.edu), Associate Professor of History, Department of History and Geography; Black Studies Program; Northern Kentucky University.

Historically African American churches have been sources of strength, education, and empowerment for thousands of people of color. The Black American church experience was based upon on various religious elements such as songs, prayers, sermons, and theologies. These institutions also has both motivated and encouraged many believers routinely through their triumphs and tragedies in the history of our nation. However, during the past few decades the growth of large Black American congregations (sometimes called mega-churches) has seemingly altered the experience and purpose of hundreds of African American churches as a result of their enormous size and various types of ministries. This phenomenon has received only scant attention from most scholars. The book under review here seeks to address this shortcoming.

In Black Megachurch Culture: Models for Education and Empowerment, Sandra L. Barnes discusses how African American mega-churches was built on the historical legacy of the Black American church movement because of its use of various religious vernaculars and rituals that are embedded in worship, theology, racial beliefs, programming campaigns, and other tools that aim to address and stress the concepts of societal success and good stewardship for its thousands of followers. The author also seeks to capture "some of the dynamic inner workings of Black mega-churches that result in a seemingly static model of success" (pp. 10-11) as well as illustrate how these institutions "will continue to impinge upon societies' expectations about acceptable religious spaces" (p. 12).

This brief but potent book is divided into five main chapters and includes a separate introductory and conclusion section. In her first chapter Barnes describes some of the general features of African American mega-churches as well as the connection of these facilities with the cultural heritage and historical legacy of the Black American church movement. …

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