“The Prophet Says…”: A Qualitative Analysis of the Mechanisms for Inducing Compliance among Congregants of Neo-Pentecostal Churches in Ghana

Abstract

There has been a surge in the growth of neo-Pentecostal churches in the Ghanaian context. These churches broadcast their activities through television and are able to reach many people and have mass followers. Their main activities are miracles, healing, prophecies, and teaching. Although studies have been conducted on their activities, little is known of how leaders of these churches influence their followers to adhere to their teachings and doctrines. The present paper explored mechanisms used by church leaders to compel members to be obedient to them and the potential implications on congregants’ well-being, as well as their decision to either stay in or leave the church. Through a thematic analysis of interviews with 20 congregants, it emerged that the nature of the churches’ doctrine, the activities, and the charisma of the leaders are able to influence congregants to remain in or leave the church and to enhance their self-beliefs. Strategies that compelled congregants to remain in the church included techniques that encouraged giving, lifestyle restrictions, reverence of and obedience to church leaders, recruitment of congregants, and spiritual cleansing/fortification. Strategies that inadvertently compelled congregants to leave the church included excessive monetary demands, rigid lifestyle demands, and repeated false or unconfirmed prophecies. A few mechanisms appeared to enhance the well-being of congregants by building self-efficacy and instilling positive lifestyle changes. Implications of the findings are discussed along with the impact of these mechanisms on congregants’ well-being.

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Correspondence to Joana Salifu Yendork.

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This work was supported by Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College under Grant 2016-SS360 with a generous donation from John Templeton Foundation.

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Salifu Yendork, J., Amponsah, A., Sarfo, E.A. et al. “The Prophet Says…”: A Qualitative Analysis of the Mechanisms for Inducing Compliance among Congregants of Neo-Pentecostal Churches in Ghana. Pastoral Psychol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-020-00908-3

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Keywords

  • Neo-pentecostal churches
  • Compliance
  • Retention strategies
  • Mechanisms that foster desertion
  • Congregants