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on August 10, 2014
This is an update of later data from his first book on the same topic. I learned a lot from the first book and the second has not disappointed. Dr. Finke is one of my favorite researchers and authors on church growth, church health and how to assess denominational trends. He jumps over style to substance as the keys to getting and maintaining members. He punctures the self-serving rationalization a of Mainline apologists for why they are dead or dying. I also appreciate his economic model for it clarifies and simplifies growth and reduction patterns. Despite a terrible title, the book is a mother lode of useful information for Pastors and a Theologians as well as interested Laity.
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on March 1, 2015
Had to read this book for a class. It's actually a fascinating read that delves into American religiosity and explains how America has become more observant over the years, and why some churches are growing while others shrink. Quite readable and interesting for anyone with a broad curiosity about American religion.
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on September 11, 2017
Bought used, it had highlights. Honestly it was even better than new. The person who highlighted helped me study better. Thank you!
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on May 4, 2013
No more mainline church propaganda about why denominations lose members. You either stay strong in your doctrine and God's word or you begin to become irrelevant to those seeking God because you have abandoned God and His Word. This book presents the facts without editorial content. You cannot miss the point.
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on February 22, 2013
Finke and Stark do an amazing job talking about the history of America and what helped found our nation. If you are looking for a great book about the history and religion of America and desire the perspective of sociologists you will love this book. They keep things interesting and on topic.
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on March 26, 2017
Great research and understanding of history as to how it relates to us today.
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on March 1, 2008
For years, Americans have been fed the story that religious belief in America is diminishing, as more citizens "drift away" from various churches toward secularism. The authors of this book, who examined thousands of church records and other documents from a more critical viewpoint, show this belief is false.

The statistics, when evaluated objectively rather than through the typical "falling away from God" paranoia, show religious activity in the US has actually been rising since Colonial times. Data doesn't lie. While church membership was higher on paper during the Colonial period, this is only because Colonies and individual towns were managed directly through local churches. These churches collected taxes from all citizens. Therefore churches showed high "membership" rates since nearly all citizens were listed on their rolls. Anyone who paid taxes or fees for residency were counted as "members." Other, less objective researchers have missed this point, and claimed high membership meant a high level of religious fervor during the early Colonial period. This really wasn't the case. Remember, only 35 of the 105 Mayflower colonists were Puritans. The others were merchants, fishermen, trappers, and others who were simply traveling to America. Most histories don't note this.

Why are Americans constantly bombarded by the idea that the US is becoming "less Christian" than it was before? Primarily it's because certain sects have lost members while others gained them. Some sects that were dominant in early America barely exist today.

Another force is also at work here. Religious leaders love to portray the church as "oppressed" by evil secular forces. They'd rather appeal to followers' emotions and fears than admit that American churches are doing rather well. Doing so wouldn't give church leaders the opportunity to paint an "us vs. them" battle, or to insist that Christianity is under attack.

Fincke & Stark have done a great service by conducting their statistical analysis of the reality of this situation. While church leaders will wail and gnash their teeth at the authors' conclusions, rational people may start to understand how the American public has been manipulated. That's a good thing.
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on June 18, 2005
If someone thinks that religion, in order to attract new believers, should be in harmony with this world, woe betides him, he seems to be wrong. The authors explain that for more than two centuries, in America, the religious denominations with better scores in rates of growth were those which were organized sect-like, i.e., maintained distance with the world by imposing heavy demands upon his flock (but also granting them great rewards). On the other side, those which tried and compromised, in order to relieve tensions and differences with their society (i.e., those church-like) have been steadily declining. Difference pays, assimilation and ecumenism leads to bankruptcy.

Why? Read the book and you will find out, and although perhaps you will be somewhat shocked to see religion explained by often using economic terminology, do not worry, the book is not irreverent. Besides, it is not a difficult read (only 300 pages) though it is not a light read either (content: 5 starts; pleasure: 4 to 3).

P.S. For more information, I would also suggest reading the reviews of the first edition of this work ("The Churching of America, 1776-1990").
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on March 17, 2016
Love it!
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on August 14, 2013
Well, maybe not if you're a part of the evangelical tradition in America. However, if you are a member of a mainline denomination, you need to read this book. Really. You need to read it.
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