Religious Revision.docx - LITERATURE REVIEW ON...

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LITERATURE REVIEW ON SUSTAINABILITY OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIPStudent’s NameClass InformationDate
1The purpose of this literature review is to look into the current understanding of membership sustainability in churches and to understand several scholarly attempts to contextualize membership sustainability today. Prominent scholars in the area of membership sustainability address the issues of congregational behavior and methods of retaining membership in churches. To have an understanding of the phenomenon of church membership, one must first examine the key questions that scholars seek to unravel: why do people join or leave churches, what is the importance of sustaining church membership? What methods do churches use to sustain their congregations? What issues are of particular concern to the Black Baptist Church concerning the sustainability of membership?Why People Join or Leave ChurchesSustaining membership is a challenging phenomenon for all churches. According to reports by the United States Census Bureau Records, there is a significant rift between churches that close down on an annual basis and those that start.1The figures indicate that an average of 4000 churches close down every year as compared to 1000 churches that start.2This simple statistic is an indication that more people are leaving churches, leading to their downfall, as compared to those that arise due to the people joining the church. The study also asserts that there was an estimated ration of 27 churches per 10,000 members at the start of the century (1900), and this number has decreased significantly to 11 churches per 10,000 people at the turn 1Donald P. Smith, How to Attract and Keep Active Church Members (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), 323.2Donald P. Smith, How to Attract and Keep Active Church Members (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), 323.
2of the century.3Further, the United States Census Bureau Records indicate that there are 2.7 million members of the church that succumb to inactivity each year in the United States of America4. Compared to the increasing population in America, this phenomenon is an indication that people are leaving the church at an alarming rate and churches are closing down at a higher rate that new churches are coming up. Various scholars have attempted to contextualize the issue people leaving and joining churches leading to various views on the topic.According to Duncan, there are several reasons that lead to members leaving the church.5First, members will feel less motivated to stay in a church whenever they believe the leadership style in the church is questionable. Poor leadership is always the genesis of conflict, low morale, and confusion in the church. Secondly, members can leave a church if they feel there is a need to experience a different style of worship or if they are looking for a specific experience from the church. Further, Duncan asserts that anxiety for one's religious state is the primary consideration for most of the members that depart from a church.

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