Black megachurches and social services
Description Black megachurches, with weekly church attendance figures of 2,000 or more participants and activities seven days a week, have the ability to provide numerous social services in the form of volunteers, financial resources, and support networks. These churches, among the largest institutions in the Black community, raise several questions and issues of interest about their potential social impact. Secondary data analysis from the Faith Factor 2000 database of Black churches (n = 1,863) and linear regression modeling are used to study the effect church size (in particular, the Black megachurch) has on social service delivery in the Black community and what church dynamics motivate social service involvement. An important aspect of this debate involves the dual role of the Black church as both a spiritual and social institution. The theories of several sociologists including, Karl Marx (1964), Emile Durkheim (1915), W.E.B. Du Bois (1903) and more recently, Lincoln and Mamiya (1990) address this dichotomy. Employing the theoretical framework and methods developed by Barnes (2004), this study closely examines the social service activities of churches of different sizes---particularly, the Black megachurches---and how those activities affect the overall social service activities of the Black community. Results show that Megachurches offer more types of social service activities than smaller sized churches but, the number of social service programs they offer do not statistically differ. Additionally, churches in good financial health, with better-educated, paid clergy positively influence social service sponsorship. While variables associated with a prophetic function have a greater influence on social service, variables that reflect a priestly function, specifically whether churches sponsor religious programs, are also important in motivating churches to provide social services. This study adds to the growing literature on Black megachurches by providing evidence of church size effect on the character and extent of social service delivery by Black churches to Black communities. It also explores the factors that lead Black churches to take part in social service activities.
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