Strictness and Congregational Growth in Middletown
The relative effectiveness of strictness theory and modernization theory in explaining congregational growth is tested using a random sample of white, Protestant churches in Middletown (N = 98). Although the former theory predicts that growth is positively related to an authoritative structure and to enforcing rules of ascetic strictness, modernization theory predicts the opposite pattern. For our sample, authoritative leadership seemed not to produce congregational growth. The main finding was that strict rules positively related to growth among working-class congregations, but negatively related to growth among middle-class congregations.
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