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Predicting Reaction to a Message of Ministry: An Audience Analysis



This study investigated whether audience characteristics identified as important in the conversion and religious recruitment literature could predict reaction to a Christianity-themed recruitment message. More specific goals involved (a) comparing the impact of potential recruits' dispositional attributes and personal motivations versus their situational availability on the persuasive effect of religious recruitment messages; and (b) rank ordering the audience characteristics examined based on their predictive power. Results indicated that dispositional and motivational considerations were more reliable predictors of receivers' responses to the recruitment message than were situational factors. Specifically, five of the six dispositional and motivational variables (i.e., loneliness, perceived childhood attachment history, meaning and purpose, other-orientation, and problem-solving perspective) were—at least under certain conditions—related to participants' interest in the church. The two variables representing situational availability, free time and membership status, however, were either unrelated to interest in the church or related to participants' reactions, but in the opposite direction of what was expected.