Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches

By Omri Elisha | Go to book overview

Notes

1. INTRODUCTION

1. To protect the anonymity of informants and interviewees who prefer not to be identified, the names of individuals, churches, and Christian organizations in Knoxville appear in this book as pseudonyms. In some cases biographical or other identifying details have been altered as well.

2. The idea of “loving the poor” and serving one’s community is hardly novel in the ethos of North American congregationalism, conservative or otherwise. Most religious congregations in the United States offer social services or outreach programs of one kind or another. These include informal services provided by members, such as youth mentoring or caring for the sick and elderly; formal programs, such as food pantries and homeless shelters, that may require paid staff, volunteer labor, and partnerships with external agencies; and highly specialized ministries that offer professional services such as free health care, job training, and skilled labor for low-income housing construction (Cnaan et al. 2002). However, “for the vast majority of congregations, social services constitute a minor and peripheral aspect of their organizational activities, taking up only small amounts of their resources and involving only small numbers of people” (Chaves 2004: 93).

When theology is factored in, we see that theologically conservative congregations are statistically less likely to sponsor social service programs than liberal mainline congregations (Chaves 2004: 53; Wuthnow 2004: 55). We see also that conservative evangelical churches are generally “less likely than other churches to address, either politically or through community services, pressing social and economic problems,” and more likely to “concentrate their energy on evangelism or meeting the needs of congregational members” (Greenberg 2000: 389). It is possible, given the data, that evangelical megachurches made

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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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