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Community and Congregational Factors in the Growth and Decline of Protestant Churches

William McKinney and R. Hoge
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 1983), pp. 51-66
DOI: 10.2307/1385591
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1385591
Page Count: 16
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Community and Congregational Factors in the Growth and Decline of Protestant Churches
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Abstract

A study of 3,247 United Church of Christ congregations assessed the explanatory power of numerous factors for growth or decline in 1970-78. Overall decline was 10.4%. Larger churches declined proportionately more than small churches; city churches declined markedly while small town and rural churches remained stable. Recently established churches grew the most. Congregational youthfulness was a key institutional factor; younger congregations grew more. Community contextual factors accounted for 51% of the explained variance in growth or decline, and institutional factors accounted for 49%. Some institutional factors are not changeable by intentional action, and if they are removed, changeable institutional factors accounted for 33% of the variance. It is argued that future researchers should distinguish between two types of institutional factors in order to clarify the current debate over factors in church growth.

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