(C14) Transnational Networks in the Pentecostal Evangelical Movement

The research project deals with a prayer movement called ‘24-7 Prayer’, which was formed in England ten years ago. This movement was initially organised as a loose network but rather quickly turned into a transnational movement, meanwhile having fixed local groups. Inspired by the Moravian Brethren and Celtic traditions, their emphasis is on a spirituality that can be experienced individually in prayer so that Christians of all denominations can be integrated into the movement. Nevertheless, their theological orientation can be characterised as (post-) evangelical. New forms of collectivisation and the focusing on social commitment, which are organised around the practice of praying, are of special interest here. Particularly by emphasising social justice, the movement performs integration beyond popular religion. Social change is to be mobilised by personal relations and personal responsibility. In this, prayer becomes the primary sociality of the movement, with the personal being at the same time the political that oscillates between contemplation and active deed. Moreover, the practice of praying acts as a medium of embodying and reflecting social change. In this, the movement is a typical example of today’s changing religious forms of organisation and collectivisation and of the accompanying (re-)construction and incorporation of religious identity and spirituality.

Based on this example, the project pursues the question of the transformation of present-day religious social forms. As a supplement to and dissociation from the current debates about the processes of secularisation and of a post-secular society respectively, the project is oriented towards the movement’s tangible religious social reforms that are developed as interaction patterns on the basis of the ritual practice of praying. Thus, the theoretical approach to be worked out and utilised is a ‘theory of embodiment’, in order to understand the practice of praying as an activity that is both individually based on experience and socially interactive. Their implications for the transformation of religious social and organisational forms are to be explored in the process. At the same time, current theories of the body will be utilised at the intersection of sociology and of cultural studies and cognitive science in particular. This theoretical corpus is to provide us with a better focus on the interplay of individual experience, embodied cognition, social interaction and cooperation and of the development of social order. Therefore, the project aims to contribute substantially to interdisciplinary research and theory formation.