From The Globe and Mail-
If you went to Sunday school, you heard the story of Jonah and chances are you remember that he was swallowed by a whale. But what often gets forgotten is the story’s larger theme. Jonah is given a divine message and is instructed to deliver it to a people on the verge of calamity but, for some specific reasons, he’s reluctant.
Minus hearing the voice of God, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt a little like Jonah.
The information I’m delivering relates to a study some colleagues and I conducted that explored mainline Protestant churches. Since the 1960s, churches in the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United denominations have been steadily losing members and we wanted to determine why.
Through statistical analysis of survey data from a near-even mix of growing and declining church attendees and their clergy, we found that conservative religious doctrine, known for emphasizing a more literal interpretation of scripture, is a key driver for church growth in mainline Protestant congregations. Liberal doctrine, which emphasizes a metaphorical interpretation, leads to decline.
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