The Heart as a Compass: Preaching Self-worth and Success to Single Young Women in a Nigerian Pentecostal Church

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The quiet city of Calabar in southeastern Nigeria is famed for its burgeoning church scene offering various spiritual services. In this religious marketplace, The Brook Church stands out due to its beautiful building, well-dressed congregation, clever branding, and its ‘unique’ preaching. Focusing on young women’s engagement with The Brook Church, this article builds on recent analyses seeking to understand the attraction of Pentecostalism for this often marginalised and disenfranchised social group. Examining The Brook Church’s life-affirming doctrine of Zoe, in which individual aspirations are realised through careful and timely management of the religious self, the article explores how religious action and rhetoric mould new subjectivities aimed for success. Illustrating how Pentecostal practice gives young women a newfound sense of self-worth and confidence, the article’s emphasis on the individual project suggests we should broaden debates that solely equate young women’s engagement with Pentecostalism with sexuality and marriage opportunities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-333
JournalJournal of Religion in Africa
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2016


  • Nigeria, Pentecostalism, Religious practice, Self-management, young women, Aspirations

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