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Circulation of the Saints Revisited: A Longitudinal Look at Conservative Church Growth

Reginald W. Bibby and Merlin B. Brinkerhoff
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp. 253-262
DOI: 10.2307/1385969
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1385969
Page Count: 10
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Circulation of the Saints Revisited: A Longitudinal Look at Conservative Church Growth
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Abstract

The assumption that superior growth among Conservative churches since the mid-1960s has included noteworthy recruitment of the unchurched is again examined. Having previously found that over 90% of the 1966-70 additions to twenty Conservative churches in "the Canadian Bible Belt" were internal, we return to those same churches in the face of claims that evangelical outreach has accelerated in the 1970s and 80s. While the churches have changed, recruitment patterns have remained largely the same. An analysis of the proselytes reveals that most continue to be young people, recruited through friendship and family ties. Variations in pathway proportions are accounted for by differentiating regional and neighborhood churches, and further taking their ecological environments into account. We conclude that these findings for Canada support the secularization thesis and, rather than being anomalous, are to be expected in all highly industrialized societies.

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