Unraveling the Mega-Church
True Faith or False Promises?
by Wilmer E. MacNair
May 2009, 253pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37778-5
$84, £63, 70€, A120
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37779-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

MacNair offers an insightful tour of the mega-church in the United States and considers its place in American Christianity.

As American mega-churches continue to grow in both number and congregation size, more and more people want to know what all the commotion is about. Here, MacNair shows the emergence of the modern mega-church as not only a disturbing break from tradition, but as a distortion of the Christian tradition of worship – morphing the Church into something more like a business than a place of worship or a place where the presence of Jesus is preserved for future generations. This book answers several questions in an effort to help readers better understand this trend: What is the impact of the emergence of the mega-church, what does this mean to modern Christianity and to the future of Christianity? What does this tell us about the practice of religion today and about faith in God, in any God, in any religion, in the face of the encroachment of mega organizational thinking and money-making upon traditional belief systems? An inside observer, social scientist and faith leader, MacNair offers an insightful critique of mega-churches and their proliferation throughout the country. Reporting from within the halls of Christian history and the Christian intellectual tradition, he offers a new perspective on a growing trend in American Christianity.

Taking readers on a tour of a typical mega-church, MacNair reveals the inner workings of this growing organizational approach to American Christianity. He looks at the physical meeting place, the music, the sermon, the groups and services available to congregants, the messages and values it promotes, and the future of the mega-church in America. He argues that the main goal of the mega-church is growth and expansion, and that such an approach distorts the essence of Christianity and sends the wrong message to followers. With more than 1200 mega-churches in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands of congregants, this controversial work will pique the interest of anyone who wishes to know more about the movement as well as the critiques it engenders.

Wilmer E. MacNair, PhD, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a retired professor of sociology at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. He is the author of Basic Thinking: On Beginning at the Beginning in Thinking About Social and Economic Problems and The Ten Commandments and the Crisis of Community in America.

Reviews

"MacNair (sociology, U. of Louisiana at Lafayette, retired) shows how American mega-churches continue to grow in popularity despite the fact that these organizations distort Christian values and traditions by following traditional business models. Written for general readers, this book explores the organizational approach to Christian leadership by analyzing sermons, music, groups and services, messages and values and the physical meeting place. The author uses his own experiences as a faith leader and social scientist to question the relationship between fundraising and traditional belief systems."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2009
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