McGuire Chapter 5 Reading Response

Last week we read about religious collectives in chapter five of McGuire’s book. It was an interesting read especially since I visited a religious organization over the weekend for this course. It made me think of how many religious organizations have been born from tension within the various forms of Christianity. Professor Spickard touched on this in class when he talked about having to constantly update the map of religious organizations in Redlands. Organizations move, change, close, etc. all the time. The forms, practices, interpretation of Christianity especially, seem endless and ever-growing.

This past Sunday I visited a newer Christian group in town. What kept resurfacing throughout the service was the idea of recruitment. There wasn’t one moment that the focus wasn’t about involvement, outreach and interaction between the pastor, the audience, and within the members themselves. Every aspect of this organization was about institutionalization of all the facets that made them unique. They developed programs, videos, cohorts, etc. all in the attempt to reach their goal of what appeared to be more members. This made me think of McGuire’s point about the dilemmas that arise when new organization begins to institutionalize, their original goals have to shift and organically lead to different goals.  It makes me very curious about where this same organization will be five years from now.

Having witnessed this new-age type of service over the weekend I have a sense of what McGuire is talking about with the idea that religious orientation is shifting (sectarian, churchly, denominational, cultic, etc.). Especially in a setting with a growing and changing audience, it seems like an organization can morph based on who has a voice at the time. Not even necessarily the social order or what is happening in the world at large, but instead by the people who invest the time into influencing an organization. In the case this weekend, it’s the volunteers that were sprinkled throughout, eager to engage with the guests present.