Focusing on the innovations of several mainline Protestant churches in the San Francisco Bay Area, The Megachurch and the Mainline provides new understandings of the transformation of spiritual traditions. From Ellingson’s perspective, these particular congregations typify a new type of Lutheranism — one which combines the evangelical approaches that are embodied in the growing legion of megachurches with American society’s emphasis on pragmatism and consumerism. Ellingson provides descriptions of congregations as they sacrifice hymns in favor of rock music and scrap traditional white robes and stoles for Hawaiian-style shirts, while also making readers aware of the long history of similar attempts to Americanize the Lutheran tradition.
Religious traditions provide the stories and rituals that define the core values of church members. Yet modern life in America can make those customs seem undesirable, even impractical. As a result, many congregations refashion church traditions so they may remain powerful and salient. This book addresses how these transformations occur as well as how clergy and worshipers negotiate which aspects should be preserved or discarded.