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Market Share and Religious Competition: Do Small Market Share Congregations and Their Leaders Try Harder?


Correspondence should be addressed to Jonathan P. Hill, Department of Sociology & Social Work, Calvin College, 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546. E-mail:


A central claim of the religious economies model is that religious competition affects levels of religious participation and commitment primarily because religious competition pushes the suppliers of religion (religious leaders and organizations) to market their faith more vigorously and effectively. We examine whether U.S. congregations experiencing greater religious competition measured by their smaller religious market share do more to recruit new members, offer more services to current followers, and whether their clergy work longer hours. The efforts of congregations and clergy do vary substantially, but this variation is not related to their denomination's market share. The variations are also not due to religious pluralism, intradenominational competition, or evangelical market share. Members of small market share congregations are more committed, but this higher commitment does not appear to arise because religious suppliers are responding to religious competition. Several alternative explanations for the higher commitment levels of small market share groups are offered with a discussion of the implications for theories of religious competition.