THEORIES & Religious Research Theories Listed & Defined by ARDA: Association of Religious Data Archives

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The ARDA is the best place to find a compilation of theories and research on the church compiled by scholars. It is compiled by my colleague Roger Finke and his colleagues Penn. State University.

Religious Research Theories

Learn about other theories of religion:
arrow.jpgChurch/Sect Cycle
arrow.jpgCivilization Theory
arrow.jpgCognitive Theories
arrow.jpgConversion Theory
arrow.jpgCyclical Theory
arrow.jpgDemographic Transition Theory
arrow.jpgModernization Theory
arrow.jpgRational Choice/Religious Economies
arrow.jpgSocial Network Theory
arrow.jpgSub-Cultural Identity Theory of Persistence and Strength

Theories bpc_icon_theory.jpg

In the social sciences generally, as well as in the social science of religion, the term theory is actually used in a multitude of applications. In a sense, every specific theory embodies a somewhat different idea of what theory means, so it is not surprising that this word tends to confuse people. For example, fully 93 articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy have “theory” in their titles, yet they approach it from almost as many different directions.

Citing the work of Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge, we offer the following general definition of a theory:

A theory is a set of statements, or hypotheses, about relationships among a set of abstract concepts. These statements say how and why the concepts are interrelated. Furthermore, these statements must give rise to implications that potentially are falsifiable empirically.


a) Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, A Theory of Religion (New York: Toronto/Lang, 1987), p. 13.

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MEGACHURCHES & The Worldwide List

by Warren Bird, Leadership Network

“The list is not based on membership, seating capacity or building size but on actual worship attendance – adults and children, all services, all physical campuses on an average weekend for the year, not counting anyone twice. It is limited to Protestant congregations. Multisite churches are counted as part of one congregation if they are all under the same leader and governance, adhere to the same doctrine, identify together under a similar name or association, and share finances at some level.

Click to View the World Megachurches List (To download a copy to your computer, click the image above, then choose File –> Download as)

Spread the Word, Improve the List

Feel free also to publicize or cite this listing. The shortcut link is Also if you’d like to receive news and information on resources of interest for leaders of growing churches, please subscribe to our free e-newsletter: Leadership Network Advance.”

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