A Sociological Study of a Thriving Evangelical Parish
(2015) A Sociological Study of a Thriving Evangelical Parish, no. 82.
This study seeks to explore a variety of sociology of religion positions by studying a Scottish charismatic, evangelical parish that in contrast to the predictions of decline has increased its membership several fold and seems to be thriving. The 'secularisation thesis' is an area of debate in contemporary sociology with sociologists who support this thesis from Durkheim (1961) to Wilson (1998) contending with Weber that increasing rationality and the differentiation of life spheres and institutions found in modernity inevitably lead to the decline of religion. However this debate now has a plurality of viewpoints with Bruce (2002) seeing the secularisation process as a de-Christianisation process in its European heartland rather than a move to a secular society. Other sociologists of religion such as Stark and Fink (2000), Berger (2010) and Davie (2005) also contest the 'modernisation as secularisation' orthodoxy while conceding that in the British and Scottish contexts there has been a reduction in church membership and church attendance (Brown 2009). This project used a questionnaire approach seeking to identify the factors that explain the maintenance of religion and identifies the significance of the 'experience of the sacred' in a particular church congregation's success, along with the social bonding that local church life makes possible and which offsets the forces of privatism and individualism released in late modernity which threaten the social reproducing of Christianity.