Independent charismatic churches in a period of post-modernisation – a case study of the Christian Outreach Centre Movement

Hey, Sam (2006) Independent charismatic churches in a period of post-modernisation – a case study of the Christian Outreach Centre Movement. In Social change in the 21st century conference 2006, 27 October 2006, Queensland University of Technology.


The period from the mid 1960s to the present has witnessed a decline in many established churches. At the same time, it also saw the emergence of new religious groups, and within Christianity, the blossoming of revival movements. This paper describes a case study of an independent charismatic church, the Christian Outreach Centre (COC), and the denomination that grew from it during this period of rapid social change. It seeks to illuminate the particular appeal of new charismatic Christian churches, and to show how their innovative religious and organisational practices buttressed their growth during this period. The COC was an Australian religious group that was founded in Brisbane in 1974, before growing into a national and international movement with over 700 member churches. It was a local development that interacted with, and adapted, overseas religious models as an aid to developing contemporary avenues for religious expression. The COC developed innovative responses to the changes associated with advancing suburbanisation, de-institutionalisation and post modernity. It encouraged greater involvement of laity, the working class, women, and youth, and sought to give these religious consumers greater choice appropriate to increased market options. The COC was quick to use new technologies and media, including television, to start religious schools and a tertiary college, to expand into welfare programs, overseas aid agencies and political lobbying. Through merging socially conservative Christian beliefs with creative responses to local and global developments the COC grew into one of Australia’s larger mega churches by the late twentieth century. In conclusion we suggest that the particular appeal of the COC lies in its experiential (rather than creedal or dogmatic) theology, and in its adaptive religious and social practices. Its rapid growth allowed it to maintain organisational flexibility appropriate to these practices, but its long term sustainability is, as yet, untested in the face of organisational stagnation or decline.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

2,755 since deposited on 22 Feb 2007
231 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 6298
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Australian Christianity, Social Change, Pentecostalism, Charismatic Movement, Postmodernity
ISBN: 1741071291
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS (220400) > Religion and Society (220405)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Sam Hey
Deposited On: 22 Feb 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:37

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page