And God said "Let there be charismatics in the city" : a study into the practise [sic] and presence of a charismatic megachurch in the city of Durban.
The turn of the century has brought with it a global population explosion that has never before been experienced by any other generation. In addition to this, for the first time the world is now more urban than rural. Over half of the world's six billion people now live in cities. This study includes two areas of increasing sociological and theological interest during the 21st century, both of which are maligned in many circles: the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, and, the City. The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is active in 80% of the world's 3300 metropolises. In South Africa a positive growth trend in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches has been noted. As the city grows, so too does the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. This growth has decisive sociological and theological implications in South African cities since "the pulse of South Africa" is "beating to an urban rhythm". This study is located in the city of Durban where the Urban Foundation1 recorded the highest population growth in the world during the period between 1970 and 1980. The record growth was 100 % (the city with the second highest growth rate was the Nigerian city of Lagos at 93, 7% (in De Beer 1998: 30). In the light of the dynamic urban context of Durban, this study attempts to critically evaluate the transformative praxis of a Pentecostal/Charismatic megachurch in the city. A probe into the subject group's urban presence and social interventions were conducted in order to explore the intentional and unintentional consequences of the church's initiatives. The critical analysis in the study displays the significant role of this faith community as an urban asset and a vital agent of societal change, as well as, its unwitting espousal of neo-liberalism, consumerism and middle-class values.