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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h



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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


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Re: Do conservative or progressive congregations lead in growth?

  • Subject: Re: Do conservative or progressive congregations lead in growth?
  • From: Louie Crew <lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2009 13:59:35 -0400

XXXXXXXX  wrote:

> I am immensely curious whether there have been any
> studies that correlate church growth with theological temperament.  For
> example, do "conservative"  churches grow faster and larger than "liberal"
> churches.

I share your curiosity but do not expect us to find convincing proof for
either side.  If progressive churches were growing faster than conservative
churches, I would be reporting the data that proves it.   If conservative
churches were growing faster than progressive ones, I assume George Gallup,
a devout conservative, would be touting the proof.

A close look at random samples of either type of congregation will reveal
why neither theological temperament sets a congregation at an advantage to
grow.  There are progressive and conservative parishes that are tired,
unwelcoming, self-absorbed..... and there are progressive and conservative
parishes that are vibrant, welcoming, and engaged with communities near and

Being progressive or conservative is quite important to those of us who are,
and should be important to us.  The issues which engage us are important not
just to us, but also to those not engaged by them.  There should be no
argument at all at how important the circumcision debate of the first
century was to the long-term mission strategy of the Church, but there must
have been many, perhaps a majority, who wished people would stop talking
about it so the issue could go away.  Had the circumcision party "won,"
Christianity, if it existed at all, would likely now be a tiny sect of

Unfortunately, in "winning," the anti-circumcision party assured the divorce
of Christianity from Judaism.    All the first Christians were Jews, but by
the end of the first century, very few were Jews, and Christianity cut
itself off from many understandings vital to all the original Christians.
The divorce was to Christianity's loss.  It is wonderful to be adopted into
a family, but less wonderful to know almost nothing about your family of

Despite the uncertainty about what causes church growth, there should be no
uncertainty about what causes successful ministry, clerical or lay:  "Feed
my sheep."  In a never exhausting way, love those whom you serve.  Forget
careerism.  Invest yourself fully in the lives of others.

Louie, L1 Newark

Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
http://queereye4lectionary.blogspot.com/  Queer Eye for the Lectionary

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