The success of the megachurch, Putnam explains, should be integrated into business models, combining, as it does, impressive overall size with consumer-centered niches that provide senses of community or belonging.

Those churches, to be sure, combine Christian belief with contemporary culture in ways attractive to the young. So they often seem, from the perspective of more traditional Christianity, to be aesthetically challenged. But “contemporary Christian” music is hugely popular, outselling most of its secular rivals.

From even contemporary standards, that success can’t be attributed to the actual quality of the music.  As Hank said to Bobby on King of the Hill (after dragging Bobby home from his adventure with a “Christian rock” band):  “Son, you’re not making Christianity better, you’re making rock and roll worse.”  It’s something about the words, far more than the music, that’s attractive to the young.  The young, as the megachurch pastor Rick Warren wrote, are all about “purpose-driven” lives.  And they hunger to combine purpose with personal love.

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