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Many people believe that when a religious denomination outnumbers others in a particular area, it will be successful. But that isn't actually true. Nearly twenty studies done over the last few years affirm that competition, not dominance, increases the churches' vitality.

Rodney Stark, a sociologist at the University of Washington, explains that established organizations tend to get comfortable, even lazy—and that attitude doesn't encourage an active church life. "Obviously you can demand too much," he says, "but if you demand too little, that's what you get."

September 7, 1998

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