Megachurches, MegaEconomics


Good ol' Max Weber posited long ago that faith was good for the economy. No doubt he wouldn't be surprised by the findings of a recent NYT article on the economic ripples created by megachurches (Note: registration may be required).

As this article reports, megachurch pastors regularly see themselves as engaged in "meeting their community's economic needs,” ranging from steady work for contractors to financial counseling for families to loans for local entrepreneurs. The local Chamber of Commerce usually cheers on, but the local tax office is routinely stuck between a rock and hard place, unable to take in taxes from the megachurch itself while still having to tax its competitors (for instance, a nearby "secular" sports complex). This has important consequences for businesses and service providers outside the megachurch’s economic web, something that pastors and church leaders decry as unintended. ("We don't want to be taking bread off of people's tables," remarks one pastor). It also enables a strange brew of (de)secularization, as megachurches boost certain economic zones, all the while making inroads into areas of need typically met by private enterprise, the state, or, as Nancy Eiesland has shown, other religious groups.

All in all, this a timely piece of journalism that offers a perspective on megachurches rarely considered. In addition, it features a great map of megachurches nationwide, taken from Scott Thumma's work. Definitely a handy resource for any classroom PowerPoint.


Edward Blum at: December 2, 2007 at 9:06 AM said...

Jonathan Walton has an amazing book coming out - titled _Watch This!_ about African American tele-evangelists; and of course there is Shayne Lee's book on T. J. Jakes.

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