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The Real Reason One Conservative Church Grew

Gary D. Bouma
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring, 1979), pp. 127-137
DOI: 10.2307/3509971
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3509971
Page Count: 11
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The Real Reason One Conservative Church Grew
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Abstract

Membership trends of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA) are compared in detail in order to ascertain whether they support Kelley's causal conjecture regarding the growth of "conservative" churches. While Kelley cites differences in gross membership trends between these two denominations in order to support his case, detailed analysis reveals that the greater growth of the CRC is best explained by patterns of Dutch immigration after WW II and higher CRC fertility rates, but not by the appeal of the CRC to those not already members. Conservatism in the sense of demanding a great deal of members' time, energy, and money--as opposed to theological conservatism--may be a factor promoting membership retention. In general, comparisons between the CRC and the RCA do not support Kelley's causal conjecture.

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