(RNS) Canadian researchers are revisiting a hotly debated sociological question: Why do some churches decline while others succeed?

Since the 1960s, overall membership in mainline Protestant Christian churches has been dropping in both the U.S. and Canada.

But some congregations have continued to grow, and a team of researchers believes it now knows why. It’s the conservative theological beliefs of their members and clergy, according to researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario.

“The riddle of mainline death has been solved,” said David M. Haskell of Wilfrid Laurier University.

The results of the five-year research project will be published in the December issue of the Review of Religious Research.

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