Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches

By Omri Elisha | Go to book overview

Epilogue

One of the more unexpected surprises of my fieldwork came when I was invited to accompany a group of high school students on a biennial “spring break mission trip” to Washington, DC, organized by the youth ministry at Marble Valley Presbyterian. I was invited by Margie McKenzie, whose career as an outreach coordinator began as a result of having attended this same trip years earlier. I happily agreed to come along and planned to be little more than a fly on the wall, observing some thirty teenagers as they spent the week visiting homeless shelters, day-care centers, and various goodwill agencies in the impoverished inner-city neighborhoods of the nation’s capital. Fate had other plans, however. Contrary to my expectations, I had been thrust into the role of a chaperone, one of a handful of adults who assumed the responsibility of supervising the youths and transporting them from place to place. After nearly a year of participant observation in evangelical churches and ministries, I was used to performing unfamiliar roles. But I honestly never imagined I would one day be the driver of a big church van, shuttling pubescent soldiers of Christ through the streets of DC on their mission to do God’s work.

In many ways the mission trip was just as unusual an experience for the youth group; indeed, that was its function. The majority of the teenagers had little or no previous firsthand exposure to urban poverty. Most of them lived in the affluent suburbs of Knoxville, attended wellfunded schools, and had only an abstract and detached awareness of

-214-

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Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Awaking Sleeping Giants 36
  • Chapter 3 - A Region in Spite of Itself 61
  • Chapter 4 - The Names of Action 85
  • Chapter 5 - The Spiritual Injuries of Class 121
  • Chapter 6 - Compassion Accounts 153
  • Chapter 7 - Taking the (Inner) City for God 183
  • Epilogue 214
  • Notes 223
  • References 241
  • Index 253
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