Salience and congregational growth : revisiting the strictness thesis.
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Ferguson, Todd W.
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Since Kelley’s (1972) Why Conservative Churches Are Growing, scholars have examined the relationship between congregational strictness and growth. This paper seeks to further develop the strict church thesis by suggesting that strictness leads to growth when it addresses salient issues. Using binary logistic regression to analyze data from the 2000 Faith Communities Today survey, I find that, while overall strictness continues to be positively associated with congregational growth, only prohibitions that are salient within a religious tradition have an impact on congregational growth. Therefore, this study supports a more nuanced understanding of strictness. Strictness does not always lead to congregational growth. Instead, growth is contingent upon an issue’s salience.