The visible institution: Theology and religious education in two black mega-church ministries

Mary Dana Hinton, Fordham University

Abstract

This study explores T. D. Jakes’ Potter’s House Church and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers Church International. It investigates whether they are theologically and educationally faithful to the richest traditions of the historic black church. The black church began as secret meetings in hush arbors. They were an ‘invisible institution’ created by blacks to sustain them in a terrible time and place. Today, the black church is at a threshold. It has become bigger, more diverse, and more encompassing in its reach. The invisible institution is suddenly quite visible. ^ The question guiding this study is: are T. D. Jakes’ and Creflo Dollar’s mega church ministries in faithful continuity with the richest wisdom and traditions of the historic black church? With this question in mind, the hypothesis is: in vitally important theological and educational areas, these ministries are not reflective of the richest traditions the black church has to offer. The study seeks to make plain what lies beneath these very visible ministries. ^ The research is conducted using two primary methodologies. A critical historical approach is employed to understand the theology of the historic black church and how it has shaped the identity of black people through its religious education. An ethnographic methodology is utilized to uncover the theological moorings and educational practices of the mega churches under examination. ^ The study paints a rich portrait of the faithfulness of the historic black church and proceeds to decode the birth and evolution of the mega church phenomenon in general and emergence of The Potter's House Church and World Changers Church International in particular. A critical analysis from a theological and educational perspective is brought to bear on the two churches to test their faithfulness. ^ The study disclosed that The Potter’s House Church and World Changers Church International have, in fact, breached the richest traditions of the black church. Theologically, the churches exhibit a pagan and fundamentalist orientation; lack a prophetic voice; and are devoid of sound Christian theology. The churches do not attempt to shape the communal identity of African Americans. Rather, in the areas of preaching, prayer and praxis, the churches educate to personal prosperity and from communal well-being. The academic form of religious education is absent in their educational ministries. ^

Subject Area

Religion, General|Black Studies|History, Church|Theology|Education, Religious

Recommended Citation

Mary Dana Hinton, "The visible institution: Theology and religious education in two black mega-church ministries" (January 1, 2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3271021.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3271021

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