The Rise of Network Christianity
Why, when traditionally organized religious groups are seeing declining membership and participation, are networks of independent churches growing so explosively? Drawing on in-depth interviews with leaders and participants, The Rise of Network Christianity explains the social forces behind the fastest growing form of Christianity in the U.S., which Brad Christerson and Richard Flory have labeled "Independent Network Christianity" (INC). This form of
Christianity emphasizes aggressive engagement with the supernatural, including healing, direct prophecies from God, engaging in "spiritual warfare" against demonic spirits, and social transformation. Christerson and Flory argue that large-scale social changes since the 1970s, including globalization and the digital
revolution have given competitive advantages to religious groups organized by networks rather than traditionally organized congregations and denominations.
Network forms of church governance allow for experimentation with controversial supernatural practices, innovative finances and marketing, and a highly participatory, unorthodox, and experiential faith, which is attractive in today's unstable religious marketplace. Christerson and Flory argue that as more religious groups imitate this type of governance, religious belief and practice will become more experimental, more oriented around practice than belief, more shaped by the
individual religious "consumer" and that authority will become more highly concentrated in the hands of individuals rather than institutions.