A team of researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario, Canada has discovered the “secret ingredient” that enables churches to grow. The study revealed that the conservative theological beliefs of their members and clergy matters to the growth or decline of a church, Simcoe Reformer reports.
The results of the five-year research project showed that churches which follow traditional Christian beliefs are more likely to see their congregations grow, compared to churches which take a more liberal approach.
“When we talk about a conservative religious doctrine we’re talking about a more literal interpretation of the Bible,” said David M. Haskell, a sociologist from Wilfrid Laurier University. “Where the Bible says ‘Jesus rose from the dead’ or ‘God performs miracles,’ the conservative Christian view is that Jesus really did rise from the dead and God is with us and performs miracles.”
The research project surveyed more than 2,200 churchgoers from Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran and United churches in Ontario. Half of the subjects came from congregations that were growing, and half that were in decline.
According to Religion News, Haskell and co-researchers Kevin Flatt of Redeemer University College and Stephanie Burgoyne, of Laurie gave a detailed 40-question survey to both clergy and congregants. They also interviewed those who had completed the survey.
Clergy of the declining churches blamed pressures and changes in society for the loss in numbers. But, Haskell said growing churches held firmly to “traditional” Christian beliefs and were more diligent in practices such as prayer and Bible reading.
The results of the research project will appear in the December issue of Review of Religious Research.
Nuruncom. (2016). Simcoe Reformer. http://www.simcoereformer.ca/2016/11/20/study-examines-church-growthdecline
Religionnewscom. (2016). Religion News Service. http://religionnews.com/2016/11/21/study-finds-churches-with-conservative-theology-still-growing/
Macleansca. (2016). Macleansca. http://www.macleans.ca/society/nine-interesting-data-points-on-the-state-of-todays-protestant-churches/