Dr Tanya Riches BA, MA, MPhil, PhD

Dr Tanya Riches

Department of Theology and Religion
Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Edward Cadbury Centre

Contact details

 I am a researcher based in Sydney, Australia. My work has crossed a number of areas between its main disciplines of religion/theology, development studies, and ethnography/anthropology. 

My theological work is located in missiology, and has centred on global, Pentecostal and feminist theologies. I have worked within megachurches and addressed various issues relevant to these contexts. Much of my work uses ethnography in order to amplify the realities of Christians in diverse contexts. 

In terms of development studies, much of my work touches contexts of marginalisation and poverty. My PhD was undertaken in the urban Aboriginal Australian context, and reviewed the contribution of leaders undertaking community development. I have run various medium and large projects in disability studies within Australia and the Pacific. And, finally, I am currently working with students applying transformational development in the Middle Eastern, African, Asian and Australian contexts.


  • BA (Psychology/Political Economy), The University of Sydney (2000)
  • MA (Theological Studies), Alphacrucis College (2005)
  • M.Phil, Australian Catholic University (2010)
  • PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary (2017)


Tanya Riches is the Coordinator of the Masters of Transformational Development (MTD) at Eastern College, Melbourne, which facilitates communities of practice for development workers in Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Previously, she was the Masters Programs Coordinator at Hillsong College, Sydney and chair of its Research and Diversity committees. In addition, she assisted the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee for Hillsong Church. Her research on megachurches includes the coedited volume The Hillsong Movement Examined: You Call Me Out Upon the Waters, which drew insider/outsider scholars together via ethnographically engaged research.

Her PhD received the David Allan Hubbard School Award at Fuller Theological Seminary. It explored the contributions of Aboriginal senior pastors leading Pentecostal churches in three urban centres in Australia, linking their worship practices to development outcomes. This monograph was published in 2019 by Brill entitled Worship and Social Engagement in Urban Aboriginal-led Australian Pentecostal Congregations: (Re)imagining Identity in the Spirit.

Tanya has authored over fourteen peer-reviewed articles and ten chapters. She has four special edition journals and serves on Pneuma Journal and National Church Life Australia (NCLS) boards. She is an honorary research fellow of the Christian Research Association, Australia.

She has also published several congregational songs via Hillsong Music Australia and independently recorded albums.


  • Pentecostal Public/Political Theologies
  • Contemporary Worship
  • World/Global/ Cross-cultural Theologies
  • Co-production/Research Methods for NGOs


My research interests include:

  • Megachurches and Neo-Pentecostalism
  • Transformational Development (International/Community Development in Christian contexts)
  • Religious marginalization and inclusion (e.g. disability, gender, indigeneity, etc)
  • Links between worship (liturgy), spiritual formation and social engagement

Other activities

I am the Director of Arabah Ministries, a not-for-profit organization that assists congregations. I serve as an external consultant to church leadership teams located all over the world regarding their practices (worship, spiritual formation and social engagement). We have various long-term partnerships in Sicily, the Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand.


  • Riches, Tanya. Worship and Social Engagement in Urban Aboriginal-led Australian Pentecostal Congregations: (Re)imagining Identity in the Spirit. Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies Series. Leiden: Brill, 2019.
  • Riches, Tanya and Tom Wagner, ed. The Hillsong Movement Examined: You Call Me Out Upon the Waters, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017.
  • Riches, Tanya. "On the Nature of Ordering." In Wiley Blackwell Companion to Qualitative Research and Theology. Knut Tveitereid and Pete Ward (eds). Oxford, UK: Wiley, 2022.
  • Riches, Tanya. “A Pentecostal Pilgrimage Toward Justice?” In Transformative Spiritualities for the Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Fernando Enns, Upolu Lumā Vaai, Andrés Pacheco Lozano and Betty Pries (eds). Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2022. 
  • Riches, Tanya. "Nevertheless, She Persisted: Freeing Women’s Bodies from Silent Theological Sacrifice Zones." In Sisters, Mothers, Daughters: Pentecostal Perspectives on Violence against Women. Kimberly Ervin Alexander, Melissa L. Archer, Mark J. Cartledge, and Michael D. Palmer (eds). Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. 2022.  
  • Anga'aelangi, Tau'alofa and Tanya Riches. “Worship and Spirituality” in Christianity in Oceania Kenneth R. Ross, Katalina Tahaafe-Williams and Todd M. Johnson (eds). Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity. Vol. 5 Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2022. 
  • Riches, Tanya. “Wisdom Cries Out: Towards a Feminist Pentecostal Theology of Disability.” In Grounded in the Body, in Time and Place, in Scripture: Papers by Australian Women Scholars in the Evangelical Tradition., Jill Firth and Denise Cooper-Clark (eds). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2021. 
  • Douglas, Alexander and Tanya Riches. “’Hillsong and Black’: The Ethics of Style, Representation, and Identity in the Hillsong Megachurch.” In Ethics and Christian Musicking. Nathan Myrick and Mark Porter (eds). Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2021.
  • Riches, Tanya. “’The Work of the Spirit’: Hillsong Church and a Spiritual Formation for the Marketplace” in Australasian Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: Arguments from the Margins. p171-193. Christina Rocha, Mark Hutchinson and Kathleen Openshaw (eds). Leiden: Brill, 2020.
  • Riches, Tanya. “Panoptic or Pastoral Gaze? The Worship Leader in the New Media Environment.” In Singing a New Song: Congregational Music Making and Community in a Mediated Age. Tom Wagner and Anna Nekola (eds). Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2015.
  • Riches, Tanya. “Acknowledgment of Country: Intersecting Australian Pentecostalisms Reembeding Spirit in Place.” Religions, 9 (2018): 287.
  • Riches, Tanya. "Can We Still Sing the Lyrics “Come Holy Spirit?”" Pneuma. vol 38, no 3 (2016): 274-292.