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Disruption and Religious Innovation

Abstract, Author Bio and Copyright

This study develops a model of religious innovation based on Clayton Christensen's Theory of Disruption. The model identifies five conditions that are necessary for an innovative religious movement to flourish and it describes "great awakenings" in the United States as "disruptions" of the religious economy. The study then applies the model to the church-sect theory and theory of religion as developed by Rodney Stark and Roger Finke. The research confirms much of Stark and Finke's work but also identifies several areas where the Christensen model provides a better explanation of the success of religious movements in the United States, from the first Great Awakening to the success of Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey today.

Mark Hicks develops start-up enterprises in Austin, Texas. He is also the founder of, a discipleship program for New Thought students and was the founder of Unity Church of Georgetown, Texas. He holds a MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA in History from The University of Connecticut.

This study was submitted in May 2014 as an independent study to Dr. Chad Seales Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, The University of Texas at Austin.

Copyright: Mark Hicks 2014 under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike CC-BY-SA.