Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 177–198 | Cite as

Black Megachurches: Social Gospel Usage and Community Empowerment

  • Sandra Lynn BarnesEmail author


Social Gospel advocates suggest that Christianity should foster social reform, political activism, and collective empowerment. Black megachurches do not generally have a reputation for espousing such tenets. But, have they been inaccurately depicted? This analysis focuses on whether and how a Social Gospel message influences the purposes and programs for a group of Black megachurches. The study relies on ethnographic research and content analysis of 16 Black megachurches. Findings show that most sample clergy espouse a Social Gospel message that reflects social justice, servanthood, and self-help themes. Community empowerment programs are also influenced by factors such as pastor's vocation as well as church location and have a decidedly economic rather than political dimension. The implications of what constitutes Social Gospel in the twenty-first century are discussed.


Social Gospel Black megachurch Community action 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human and Organizational Development and the Divinity SchoolVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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