Family networks and social engagement

Pentecostal responses to street children and youth in Lagos, Nigeria


  • Richard H. Burgess University of Birmingham



Street children, family, Nigerian Pentecostalism, Lagos, Social engagement


This article examines Pentecostal responses to street children and youth in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. It begins by exploring the concept of the family in the West African context. It then considers the causes of the street children phenomenon and the experience of living on the ‘street’. Thirdly, it looks at the way street children are portrayed and how this influences institutional responses, including Pentecostal initiatives in Lagos. Finally, it examines the influence of theological orientation, organizational culture, and conceptions of the family on Pentecostal responses to street children in Lagos. It suggests that Pentecostal beliefs, values and experiences are a rich source of spiritual capital capable of energizing altruistic behavior towards others. Furthermore, Pentecostal churches, in their capacity as surrogate extended families, and their combination of strong leadership and a highly active laity, are especially effectiveness in mobilizing members to engage in social welfare initiatives.

Author Biography

Richard H. Burgess, University of Birmingham

Richard H. Burgess is a Research Fellow in the School of Philosophy, Theology & Religion, University of Birmingham, U.K.


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How to Cite

Burgess, R. (2012). Family networks and social engagement: Pentecostal responses to street children and youth in Lagos, Nigeria. PentecoStudies, 10(2), 196–214.