Date of Award

1983

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

George H. Akers

Second Advisor

Robert J. Cruise

Third Advisor

Steven Vitrano

Abstract

Problem. Until 1983 there was no statistical model for projecting church growth among white English-speaking Seventh-day Adventist churches in the United States. The purpose of this study was to identify a forecasting model based on the variables that were gathered from pastor and local church reports. Thegeneral hypothesis was that a significant predictive relationship existed between some combination of report variable/factors and the rate of church growth or decline. This hypothesis was subdivided into four specific hypotheses.

Method. One hundred forty-five churches were randomly selected from the white English-speaking churches in the United States. The financial, membership, pastor, and Sabbath School reports were collected from the local conference archives for the three-year period, 1976-1978.

The report data was categorized into sixty-two independent and four dependent variables. The independent variables were factor analyzed. Four prediction models were identified by stepwise multiple regression analysis using the factors as predictors.

Results. The data analysis was based on returns from 133 churches--a 92 percent return rate. Eleven factors were extracted from the data. The multiple R achieved for the four prediction models ranged from .344 to .529. Three of the prediction models obtained a significance level of .01 and one a level of .05. Thus all four of the hypotheses of this study were supported.

Conclusions. (1) Baptismal Growth is associated with a combination of the following factors: Evangelism, Pastor Tenure, Ingathering, Religious Education--Outreach, Proclamation, Discretionary Giving, and Conference Projects. (2) Dropping members from the church is associated with a combination of the following factors: Religious Education--Outreach, Proclamation, Pastor Tenure, Discretionary Giving, Obligatory Stewardship, and Sabbath School Evangelism. (3)The primary factor for predicting actual growth is Obligatory Stewardship. (4) Actual growth is also associated with a combination of five other factors: Evangelism, Pastor Tenure, Sabbath School Evangelism, Institutional Church, and Ingathering. (5) Kingdom growth is associated with a combination of four factors: Pastor Tenure, Evangelism, Proclamation, and Ingathering.

In summary, the 1976-1978 Adventist reporting system is useful for predicting the four indices of church growth. However, the overarching conclusion of this study is that some important variables/factors related to church growth are absent.

Subject Area

Church growth--United States

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