van Wyk, “Prosperity and the work of luck in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, South Africa”

Abstract: In 1905, Weber contended that uncertainty about their eternal fate forced Protestants to find secular signs of their destiny in their vocations, their frugality and in their ability to work hard and accumulate capital. More than a century later, the ‘Protestant ethic’ has changed irrevocably. Today, the phenomenal rise of Pentecostal–Charismatic Churches has largely displaced the doctrine of predestination and firmly entrenched the prosperity gospel at the very heart of popular Protestantism. In many African PCCs, the pursuit of ‘blessings’ now trumps older concerns over secular vocations and hard work. Indeed, in churches such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), Christians are urged to demand ‘miracle jobs’ from God and to reject humble vocations and small salaries, regardless of their qualifications, skills or experience. Based on long-term fieldwork with members of the UCKG in South Africa, this paper examines the work of luck (good and bad) in the lives of ordinary believers, how this new ‘work’ attempts to regulate the flow of money and how it participates in older notions of prosperity, fate and good fortune.

Probasco, “Giving Time, Not Money”

Probasco, LiErin. 2013. Giving Time, Not Money: Long-Term Impacts of Short-Term Mission Trips. Missiology 41(2):202-224.

Abstract: This article expands current knowledge of the impact that brief but intense religious experiences can have on routine behavior by examining the long-term effects of short-term mission travel on both volunteering and charitable giving. Existing literature addresses only the first few years after travel. Using data from the 2005 Religion and Global Issues Survey, I examine how participation in a domestic or international religious mission trip in high school influences adults’ volunteering and giving behavior. I also consider alternate explanations that may account for the relationship between high school mission-trip participation and current giving or volunteering, including demographic factors, religious beliefs and practices, and other forms of civic engagement. I find adolescent participation in a domestic short-term mission trip has a significant, positive influence on the likelihood of volunteering for either a local or an internationally focused organization as an adult. In contrast, adolescent participation in a domestic mission trip has a significant dampening effect on charitable giving to secular organizations. I find no significant associations between international high school trips and adult volunteering and giving when additional factors are taken into account. I discuss the implications of these results for the ways church leaders and scholars think about the mechanisms through which brief, transformative religious experiences influence beliefs and behavior over the course of a lifetime.

Haynes, “Pentecostalism and the morality of money: prosperity, inequality, and religious sociality on the Zambian Copperbelt”

Haynes, Naomi (2012) “Pentecostalism and the morality of money: prosperity, inequality, and religious sociality on the Zambian Copperbelt” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1): 123-139.


As part of a growing body of work focused on the social implications of Pentecostal Christianity, this article explores one of the ways that this religion is shaping relational life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Through a discussion of the changing nature of the prosperity gospel, I show how Pentecostalism embeds believers in social relationships that often extend beyond their religious cohort. In the absence of the lavish wealth promised by prosperity gospel preachers, Pentecostals have had to alter their understanding of divinely authored economic success. Specifically, local definitions of prosperity are characterized not by uniform, individualized wealth, but rather by progress along a gradient of material achievement through relationships that span differences in economic status. This retooled version of the prosperity gospel serves to integrate believers into the wider social world by emphasizing material inequality and promoting displays of wealth. Each of these aspects of Copperbelt Pentecostalism embeds its adherents in networks of exchange that are a central component of urban Zambian sociality. This analysis of Pentecostalism expands on studies of this religion that focus only on formal ritual life, while at the same time challenging interpretations of Pentecostalism that have given its social potential short shrift.


Le présent article s’inscrit dans un corpus de plus en plus important de travaux consacrés aux implications sociales du christianisme pentecôtiste. Il explore l’une des manières dont cette religion façonne la vie relationnelle dans la province du Copperbelt, en Zambie. Par la discussion de la nature changeante de la théologie de la prospérité, l’auteure montre comment le pentecôtisme intègre ses fidèles dans des relations sociales qui s’étendent souvent au-delà des limites de leur communauté religieuse. Ne voyant pas venir l’abondance promise par les prédicateurs de la doctrine de la prospérité, les pentecôtistes ont dû revoir leur interprétation d’une réussite économique sanctionnée par Dieu. Plus précisément, les définitions locales de la prospérité sont caractérisées non pas par une possession de biens uniforme et individualisée mais plutôt par une progression suivant un gradient de réussite matérielle, par le biais de relations franchissant les différences de situation économique. Cette version remaniée de la théologie de la prospérité sert à intégrer les croyants dans le monde social qui les entoure, en mettant l’accent sur les inégalités matérielles et en encourageant les signes extérieurs de richesse. Chacun de ces aspects du pentecôtisme dans le Copperbelt intègre les fidèles dans des réseaux d’échange qui sont une composante essentielle de la société zambienne urbaine. L’analyse du pentecôtisme réalisée ici commente les études de cette religion axées uniquement sur le rituel, tout en remettant en question les interprétations faisant peu de cas du potentiel social du pentecôtisme.