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Examining Megachurch Growth: Free Riding, Fit, and Faith

Marc von der Ruhr () and Joseph Daniels

No 2010-07, Working Papers and Research from Marquette University, Center for Global and Economic Studies and Department of Economics

Abstract: Megachurches are thriving in religious markets at a time when Americans are asserting their ability as consumers of religious products to engage in religious switching. The apparent success of megachurches, which often provide a low cost and low commitment path by which religious refugees may join the church, seems to challenge Iannocconne’s theory that high commitment churches will thrive while low commitment churches will atrophy. This paper employs a signaling model to illustrate the strategy and organizational forms megachurches employ to indicate a match between what the church produces and the religious refugee wishes to consume in an effort to increase their membership. The model illustrates that megachurches expect little in regard to financial or time commitment of new attendees. However, once the attendees perceive a good fit with the church, the megachurch increases its expectation of commitment. Data from the FACT2000 survey provide evidence in support of the model’s predictions.

Keywords: megachurches; quality signaling; Economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010-08
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Journal Article: Examining megachurch growth: free riding, fit, and faith (2012) Downloads
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