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A traditional protestant church experiencing substantial membership decline: an organizational strength analysis and observations to attend or leave the institution

David Fowler (Department of Business Administration, Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina, USA)
Jon Musgrave (Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA)
Jill Musgrave (Calumet College of Saint Joseph, Whiting, Indiana, USA)

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior

ISSN: 1093-4537

Article publication date: 3 April 2020

Issue publication date: 22 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This organizational climate empirical case study involves a religious organization in the United States of America, which has experienced a substantial decline in membership and weekly service participation numbers over the previous five years. The purpose of this qualitative case study is to reveal motivating factors that drive parishioners to leave or stay within a traditional protestant congregation and to uncover the strengths and weaknesses within the organization.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology behind the study considers personal observation by the author and engages current and former members of the organization as well as front-line employees and senior leadership. Qualitative essays were completed through Qualtrics by participants and analyzed with the use of MAXQDA software for thematic frequency and organization.

Findings

During analysis, correlations were found to exist between the church's membership decline and ineffectiveness of senior leadership. Also, it is quite evident that the church's strengths were found in the quality of its members and the relationships they developed. This was found to be a significant motivation to stay within the organization.

Originality/value

The study provides value to practitioners within organizational development fields. Usage of this knowledge could assist in providing insights into possible reasons why religious organizations falter under ineffective leadership, which in turn could provide opportunities to implement improvements based on discoveries.

Keywords

Citation

Fowler, D., Musgrave, J. and Musgrave, J. (2020), "A traditional protestant church experiencing substantial membership decline: an organizational strength analysis and observations to attend or leave the institution", International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 207-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOTB-02-2019-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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