Monday, August 13, 2007

Storefront ministries and hierarchical institutions

Another followup.

It's good when the educational elite perform quantitative and qualitative analysis of popular movements. In fact, it's fairly groovy:

Smaller, less bureaucratized and less hierarchical religious institutions—such as many evangelical churches—that are often newer and more receptive to change are better equipped to meet the kinds of challenges posed by transnationalism. Not burdened with extensive and complex worldwide networks, these churches are able to operate more effectively in new religious spaces. Relatively simple to organize, they provide ample room for schisms, and within them it is not difficult to gain recognition as a religious leader (Levine and Stoll 1997). They also serve to empower and captivate the interests and desires of their members, making them feel part of a larger, supranational movement (León 1998). These churches are prone to incorporate the congregations’ cultural language and needs—whether these are local or transnational—and they tend to attract followers from the same racial or ethnic group. Storefront ministries that are ethnically homogenous, therefore, can center many of their activities around their hometowns (Wellmeier 1998: 115), without the tensions that may exist between a church hierarchy and the laity in local parishes, because each member is given the important mission of making the church universal.


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