In this article, I will seek to answer whether theological conservatism and strictness play a vital role in denominational switching, as well as what factors cause churches to grow numerically. In the end, the idea that liberal theologies cause a deterioration in mainline Protestantism, while conservative theologies produce growth, is an oversimplification of the relevant factors that account for congregational development. Though theological conservatism tends to correlate with numerical expansion, it does not do so consistently and in all cases. Nonetheless, correlation does not equate to causation. Conservatism and strictness are merely two among a myriad of other influences that are present among growing churches, including (most notably) higher birth rates, higher youth retention, and a focus on evangelistic efforts.
I am a tenure-track faculty member, or
I am a graduate student trying to gain an academic position:
Why would I submit an article to SHERM Journal?
It is true, on initial review, a journal dedicated to the socio-historical study of religion or the socio-historical study of ministry appears to be a niche publication with too small of an academic market, possibly making the publication a low-impact journal. There are simply far too many other psychological and sociological journal options out there for academics to submit their qualitative research and quantitative studies. But a socio-historical examination of religion and ministry is almost unheard of as a sub-discipline in religious studies. So, who practices that?
The answer is: just about everybody who studies religion. Let us explain.