A Megachurch in a Megacity
A Study of Cyberspace Representation
Keywords:megachurch, Pentecostal, Charismatic, internet, cyberspace, religion, London
This study brings together three fields of enquiry for the first time, namely megachurch studies, cyber-religion and Pentecostal and Charismatic studies. It is a study of the online self-representation of the largest Pentecostal church in Europe, Kingsway International Christian Centre, which attracts approximately 15,000 different regular attendees for worship over the course of each month. The focus of the study is how the church represents itself through the medium of the internet, its theology and culture as expressed in cyberspace. Analysis of the website material indicates that the church advocates a narrative of self betterment, based on the Christian message, which differs somewhat from so-called “prosperity” preaching in that it prioritizes personal divine empowerment as the key to unlocking spiritual and material blessings. Indeed, the church advocates empowerment for life in general not just a form of spiritual fulfilment. This is a narrative that clearly appeals to young professional West Africans living in London and southeast England, who are most prominently modelled via the website as those experiencing the blessings. The website presents the church’s senior pastor, Matthew Ashimolowo, through both graphical and textual representation as an anointed leader who encourages the faithful members of the church to “live bigger” and receive the blessings that come from such divine empowerment.
—. “‘To the Ends of the Earth’: Mission, Migration and the Impact of African-led Pentecostal Churches in the European Diaspora”. Mission Studies 29 (2012): 23–44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/157338312X638000
Beckerlegge, G. “Computer-Mediated Religion: Religion on the Internet at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century”. In G. Beckerlegge (ed.), From Sacred Text to Internet. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001: 219–64.
Brenner, N. and R. Keil (eds). The Global Cities Reader. London: Routledge, 2006.
Burgess, R. Nigeria’s Christian Revolution: The Civil War Revival and Its Pentecostal Progeny (1967–2006). Carlisle: Paternoster/Regnum, 2008.
Cartledge, M.J. and A. Davies. “Building Jerusalem? Models of Megachurch in England”. Paper presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Religion and Culture Interest Group, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA, 2012.
Coleman, S. The Globalization of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ CBO9780511488221
Dawson, L.L. and D.E. Cowan (eds). Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. London: Routledge, 2004.
Gifford, P. Christianity: To Slave or to Enslave? Harare: Ecumenical Documentation and Information Centre of Eastern and Southern Africa, 1990.
Hackett, R.I.J. “Charismatic/Pentecostal Appropriation of Media Technologies in Nigeria and Ghana”. Journal of Religion in Africa 28.3 (1998): 258–77. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1163/157006698X00026
—. “Religion and the Internet”. Diogenes 53 (2006): 67–76. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1177/0392192106069015
Helland, C. “Online Religion/Religion Online and Virtual Communitas”. In J.K. Hadden and D.E. Cowan (eds), Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises. London: JAI Press/Elsevier Science, 2000: 205–23.
Kalu, O.U. African Pentecostalism: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195340006.001.0001
Lövheim, M. and A.G. Lindermann. “Constructing Religious Identity on the Internet”. In M.T. Højsgaard and M. Warburg (eds), Religion and Cyberspace. London: Routledge, 2005: 121–37.
Martin, B. “The Global Context of Transnational Pentecostalism”. PentecoStudies 9.1 (2010): 35–55.
Meyer, B. “Pentecostalism and Globalization”. In A.H. Anderson et al. (eds), Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theory + Methods. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010: 113–30.
Miller, D. and D. Slater. The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. Oxford: Berg, 2000.
Osgood, H.J. “African Neo-Pentecostal Churches and British Evangelicalism 1985–2005: Balancing Principles and Practicalities”. PhD thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2006.
Perriman, A. (ed.). Faith, Hope and Prosperity: A Report on “Word of Faith” and “Positive Confession” Theologies by the Evangelical Alliance (UK) Commission on Unity and Truth among Evangelicals. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2003.
Thumma, S. and D. Travis. Beyond the Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2007.
Young, G. “Reading and Praying Online: The Continuity of Religion Online and Online Religion in Internet Christianity”. In L.L. Dawson and D.E. Cowan (eds), Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. London: Routledge, 2004: 93–106.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.