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Constructing the Catalysts of Change

Constructing the Catalysts of Change

Chapter:
(p.44) Chapter 3 Constructing the Catalysts of Change
Source:
The Megachurch and the Mainline
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226204925.003.0003

“We have to change or die.” That phrase, or some variation of it, served as a mantra in seven of the nine congregations documented by this book. It is puzzling that both growing and struggling congregations commonly invoked this phrase and used it to explain why they were altering worship practices, programs, and more generally the Lutheran Church's religious tradition. The different theoretical approaches—cultural, ecological, and market—argue that external events force congregations to change. Yet congregational leaders whose churches faced no immediate or new threat drew on explanations for the larger mainline decline and models of congregational success from religious entrepreneurs to create a crisis of meaning and membership to mobilize change. This chapter shows how the expected catalysts for change failed to materialize and then discusses how congregational leaders created a rationale and plan for change as they imagined how larger cultural and market changes in American religion might affect their congregations.

Keywords:   Lutheran Church, religious tradition, change, congregations, market changes, membership, congregational leaders

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