Liberal Churches are Dying, Conservative Churches Thriving
A January 4, 2017 Washington Post article by David Haskell highlighted a Canadian study noting the trend of decline for liberal churches. Further, Haskell pointed out the 2015 Pew Research Center study that mainline protestant churches are shrinking by 1 million members annually.
Specifically, Haskell noted a study of 22 mainline congregations in the province of Ontario. The conclusion: “Conservative Protestant theology, with its more literal view of the Bible, is a significant predictor of church growth while liberal theology leads to decline.”
For instance, 93% of clergy members from growing churches agreed with this statement: Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh and blood body leaving behind an empty tomb. This compared with only 56% of clergy members from declining churches.
What explains some of the gap? Haskell notes that the distinction is an imperfect science but notes that in conservative churches would take the command “go make disciples” literally. Similarly, the command to encourage non-Christians to become Christians would account for growth. In liberal churches, 50% of clergy members did not believe in a conversion theology.
Haskell states simply: It should be obvious which of these convictions is likely to generate church growth.