Direct correspondence to Katie E. Corcoran, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, West Virginia University, PO Box 6326, Morgantown, WV 26506-6236, USA. Tel: +1 304-293-9960; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most work on religious charismatic leadership is concentrated in the study of new religious movements to the neglect of more institutional forms. Whether findings from those extreme religious cases apply in the context of institutionalized religion is an empirical question. Drawing on charismatic leadership research in organizational studies, we propose that in institutionalized religion there is less conflict between the extraordinary and ordinary qualities of the charismatic leader and that, in fact, both can attract followers and solidify the charismatic bond. Allowing followers to see their human side makes charismatic leaders more relatable, authentic, and trustworthy. We explore these propositions in the context of American megachurches using interviews and a large-N survey of attendees in 12 megachurches. We show how the senior pastors of these churches are able to establish a charismatic bond with attendees based on perceptions of their extraordinary and ordinary qualities.