Hybridization of an Assembly of God Church - Proselytism, Retention, and Re-affiliation

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This study provides a qualitative analysis of an Assembly of God Pentecostal church in the North East of England. The research employed an ethnographic framework incorporating overt participant observation and in-depth interviews over a one-year period. In addition, a number of other churches (of varying denominations) were observed. The study challenges former interpretations within the sociology of religion regarding membership and recruitment, and offers new perspectives. The project gives an account of a synthesis between classical Pentecostals and the Charismatic movement that is creating a distinct form of spiritual expression resulting in a hybrid church. Once the preserve of the working classes, Pentecostalism in Britain is now much more socially and economically diverse in its membership.


“…a work of rigorous scholarship and it offers critical insights into the shortcomings of social science….casts light on the long-term evolution of the Assemblies of God denomination in Britain and elsewhere. It is a timely study that captures the apparent paradox of conservative Christianity ‘in motion.’ …. As a book that challenges received wisdom and popular misunderstanding in equal measures, it deserves responses from scholars and Christians alike.” – James A. Beckford, University of Warwick

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
1. “In the beginning”: methodology, intellectual autobiography; research
2. Conversion: secularization; rational choice theory; researching the Christian City Centre; conversion – its significance to the believer
3. Circulation, Homogeneity and the Hybrid Church
4. Worship: Fig Tree Hall, plan and design (1979-1983); the programme; City Christian Centre (1984-present); the service
5. Theology: a unified front; between and ‘behind’ the lines; pigs in the parlour; personality change; heaven on earth; ‘restoration’ of the City Christian Centre; Pentecostal theology and women
6. History, Leadership and Organization
7. The Concept of ‘Class’ in the Hybrid Church
8. Conclusion: circulation of the saints; notion of hybridity; complexity of change; the ‘Free Rider’ problem; secularization theory
Appendices; bibliography; index

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