Theology matters – more than you might think.
In 2016, a group of university professors published a groundbreaking study which linked mainline congregation growth to traditional, conservative theology.
It compared the demographic and religious characteristics of ministers and attendees of growing mainline Protestant churches in southern Ontario with those of declining churches from the same area and the same denominations.
The results were encouraging. Traditional or evangelical theology was a “driver of growth”, said lead author David Haskell, of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. At the same time, liberal or progressive theology was a “driver of decline”.
Haskell was a key speaker at the Thriving in Babylon conference, the event that the Renewal Fellowship co-hosted with Presbyterians Standing for Apostolic Love and Truth (PSALT)in April 2018.
“Conservative theological positioning of clergy and attendees is a significant predictor of church growth,” he told the gathering. “We also found that contemporary worship was also a significant predictor of growth … When we asked them [in the study] why they did innovative contemporary worship and youth programs, they said ‘Because we want them to know Jesus.’ It all tied back to conservative theology.”
View the PowerPoint slides of David Haskell’s presentation at Thriving in Babylon, while you listen to the audio recording:
Click here to see the study.