Document Type




Format of Original

20 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Review of Religious Research

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1007/s13644-011-0024-3


Either despite or because of their non-traditional approach, megachurches have grown significantly in the United States since 1980. This paper models religious participation as an imperfect public good which, absent intervention, yields suboptimal participation by members from the church’s perspective. Megachurches address this problem in part by employing secular-based group activities to subsidize religious participation that then translates into an increase in the attendees’ religious investment. This strategy not only allows megachurches to attract and retain new members when many traditional churches are losing members but also results in higher levels of an individual’s religious capital. As a result, the megachurch may raise expectations of members’ levels of commitment and faith practices. Data from the FACT2000 survey provide evidence that megachurches employ groups more extensively than other churches, and this approach is consistent with a strategy to use groups to help subsidize individuals’ religious investment. Religious capital rises among members of megachurches relative to members of non-megachurches as a result of this strategy.


Accepted version. Review of Religious Research, Vol. 53, No. 4 (March 2012): 471-491. DOI. © 2012 Springer Verlag. Used with permission.

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