The Commercial Church

Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America

By (author) Mary Hinton

Publication date:

19 May 2011

Length of book:

170 pages

Publisher

Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739137727

In this new book on the rise of commercial black 'mega churches,' Mary Hinton examines the rich legacy of the historic black church from the dual perspectives of theology and religious education. She explores the new religious models emerging from the tradition of the historic black church and questions whether they are continuing to operate and practice according to the wisdom of this unique form of American religion. Two mega church ministries, those of T. D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar, are examined in detail with regards to how they align with black church religious history. Hinton concludes by proposing that the fastest growing religious phenomenon within and outside of the black community in the United States-the mega church-should no longer be analyzed based on size alone. Instead, Hinton urges readers to consider the ecclesiastical structures of churches in making appropriate assessments in determining should and should not be classified as a commercial church.
Mary Hinton is perhaps the first to articulate a theology of religious education operative in two specific black mega church ministries that are antithetical to prophetic dimensions associated with the historical black church. The richness of this book is in Hinton's analysis, which is informed by extensive ethnographic research. She places herself squarely within the black church tradition, but writes with an awareness of dialectical tensions that inform her critique of T. D. Jake's Potter House and Creflo Dollar's World Changers International. Thanks to Hinton's interpretation of this cultural phenomenon, I understand more fully how a commercialization of the church can contribute to a devaluation of religious education.