First off, thank you for visiting my Kickstarter page! I appreciate any support that comes my way, financial or not. Just you being here means a lot to me.
My project involves the growth of megachurches throughout America. For those unfamiliar with the term, a "megachurch" is a church that has 2,000 or more members. However, many are home to 40,000 or more people.
Most people recognize names such as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and T.D.Jakes, who all command evangelical churches with more than 30,000 members. They have become virtual celebrities in the age of the megachurch, a phenomenon that grows more each year.
It appears that people now prefer to worship in large arenas with packed crowds that feature entertaining services, charismatic preachers and live music.
At the same time, it is apparent that our world in general has gotten "bigger" in a general sense. We shop at larger stores, drive larger cars and we Americans are...larger.
So what is it about the size of megachurches that attracts so many people? Many of these pastors began by preaching in their basements or in parks. How is it that they've cultivated a following usually reserved for pop stars and movie actors?
My story begins with my grandfather, Harry Foster, a reverend from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, who passed away in 2004. He was, to me and many others, the epitome of what a Christian should be; selfless, kind to others and ready to open his heart to anyone no matter where they stood in society.
As I heard more about the growth of megachurches I wondered how my grandfather would perceive of them. They are certainly a world away from the small, congregational church that he ran. But different doesn't necessarily mean better or worse; just different.
So I wanted to investigate the world of megachurches myself rather than rely on sensational media reports, which tend to be overwhelmingly negative.
What I hope to answer through my travels is how the megachurch phenomenon is affecting Christianity. Is it a positive development, serving to bring like-minded people together? Or is negative because...it brings a lot of like-minded people together?
Why is it that Americans like big things? Are we simply more social or is there a deeper reason?
These are some of the questions which I'll be delving into. I'll also talk about the history of megachurches and show that the concept of religion mixed with entertainment is actually not a new concept, but has a long history, stretching back to Civil War times.
Over the next year I will embark on a cross country tour of the United States to experience all of the nation's megachurches firsthand. In doing so, I will be able to compare the methods and styles of the different churches. I will also be able to interview church members and pastors in order to understand their faith.
My hope is to demystify the megachurch experience, which can seem alien and strange to some, and help others to understand this development in religion within a historical context.
Half of the funds received will go toward purchasing video equipment for the accompanying documentary. I own a camera already, which would be the biggest expense, but some of the other materials I need are:
CF Memory Cards
Hard Drive (for backup)
Lavalier Microphone (for interviews)
Digital Sound Recorder (for interviews and notes)
The remaining funds will be used to fund the trip itself. The expenses mostly include gas, food and lodging.
Any remaining funds will be put toward future legs of the megachurch tour. There are four legs in all. They are:
1) East Coast (Massachusetts to Florida)- Summer 2012
2) Texas-Colorado-Kansas- Winter 2012
3) California-Seattle- Spring 2012
4) Chicago-Kentucky-Ohio- Winter/Spring 2012
You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Also, check out megachurched.com for additional updates on the project.
Again, thank you so much for checking out my Kickstarter page. Anything you can do to help is appreciated to an insane level.
Also, if anyone out there has personal experiences with megachurches and would be willing to talk about them for use in the book, please contact me. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can also leave comments on the website or contact me via Twitter (Megachurched) or on my Facebook fan page.
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