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Open AccessArticle

‘An Unstoppable Force for Good’?: How Neoliberal Governance Facilitated the Growth of Australian Suburban-Based Pentecostal Megachurches

School of Social and Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6012, New Zealand
Religions 2019, 10(11), 608; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110608
Received: 14 September 2019 / Revised: 18 October 2019 / Accepted: 21 October 2019 / Published: 3 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Australian Public Life: Resurgence, Insurgence, Cooption?)
Hillsong Church has received significant scholarly attention, which has observed the church’s rapid local and global growth. Several other Australian-based Pentecostal churches demonstrate a similar growth trajectory to Hillsong Church, namely: C3 Church, Citipointe Church, Planetshakers, and Influencers Church. To further scholarly understanding of aspects of this rapid growth, this paper discusses the emergence of economic rationalist policies which led to the neoliberal governance context in Australia. The paper argues that the emergence of this policy context, which emphasises marketization and privatisation, provided opportunities for suburban-based Pentecostal churches to expand activities beyond conducting worship services. The paper analyses materials produced by Hillsong Church, C3 Church, Citipointe Church, Planetshakers, and Influencers Church and associated educational, charity, and financial organisations. Through this analysis, the paper finds that the emergence of a neoliberal governance context in Australia provided opportunities for these churches to expand activities beyond traditional worship ceremonies to include additional activities such as running schools, Bible colleges, community care organisations, charity ventures, and financial institutions. The paper shows how economic rationalism and neoliberalism assisted in providing a context within which Australian-based suburban Pentecostal churches were able to take opportunities to grow aspects of church organisation, which helped to develop a global megachurch status. In this way, these churches took up opportunities that changes in political circumstances in Australia provided, developing a theology of growth actualised in expanding church-branded activities around the globe. View Full-Text
Keywords: neoliberalism; economic rationalism; growth theology; Hillsong Church; material religion neoliberalism; economic rationalism; growth theology; Hillsong Church; material religion
MDPI and ACS Style

Shanahan, M. ‘An Unstoppable Force for Good’?: How Neoliberal Governance Facilitated the Growth of Australian Suburban-Based Pentecostal Megachurches. Religions 2019, 10, 608.

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