A Megachurch in a Megacity: A Study of Cyberspace Representation
Issue: Vol 13 No. 1 (2014)
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
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.
Author: Mark Cartledge, Andrew Davies