Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

A Comparison of Hofstede's Power Distance Index and Webber's Church
Preference Scores Between Christian and Non-Christian Bloggers:
Church Formation in a Secondary Orality Culture

Michael L. Morgan
Regent University

The U.S. church is in decline. The literature suggests that one key to revitalizing the church is to reestablish a sense of community. The loss of community is especially acute among the youngest generation—the so-called Net generation, or Net-gen. Each generation develops a set of values that differs from the one before it. Net-geners have largely adopted postmodern values, shaped in part by the Internet itself. In recent years, these Net-geners have adopted a new form of communication—the Web-log or “blog”—which may contribute to their sense of community. While blogs are text-based, the dialog often resembles oral communication. Members of such secondary orality cultures typically favor a flat organizational hierarchy and egalitarianism. In contrast, church growth has been strongest in churches with a strict set of beliefs and strong pastoral authority. These circumstances may combine to make it difficult for non-blogging Net-gen Christians to evangelize and disciple their unchurched blogging counterparts. This study used Hofstede's Power Distance Index (PDI) to compare the preference of Christians (in general), blogging Christians, and non-Christian bloggers for a strong hierarchy, and used Webber's Church Preference Score to measure the differences between church leadership preferred by blogging and non-blogging Net-gen Christians. This study found that non-blogging Christians have a significantly higher PDI than Christian bloggers, suggesting that Christian bloggers are, indeed, more comfortable in an egalitarian environment. This finding is consistent with orality-literacy theory. The study also showed that PDI does not vary significantly between unchurched bloggers and blogging Christians, suggesting that Christian bloggers may have much in common, culturally, with unchurched bloggers. Finally, the data showed that one of the components of the Church Preference Score (Personalization CPS) did not differ significantly between blogging and non-blogging Christians. This research suggests that a new culture of secondary orality is, indeed, taking hold among the younger members of our society, and that Christian bloggers share characteristics of both the Christian and blogging communities. These Christian bloggers may thus be able to serve as a bridge, helping to build relationships between the Church and Net-gen bloggers.