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“It's the people here”: A study of ritual, conversion, and congregational life among Chinese Christians

Andrew Stuart Abel, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This is an examination of congregational life among Chinese Christians in New England. The study primarily focuses on (1) the attractions of Chinese congregational life for members and recruits, (2) the process of conversion and the social and organizational context in which it occurs, and (3) the implications of the study for conceptual models of conversion and church growth. Previous research on Chinese Christians has largely addressed cultural and identity issues regarding conversion to what is for the Chinese a foreign religion, as well as the social and political context of increased Chinese openness toward Christianity, especially among Chinese from the People's Republic of China. The existing literature addresses the attractions of Chinese churches, but there has been little effort to systematically compare among such attractions. Employing multiple methods (survey, informal interviews, and participant observation), this study focuses on how Chinese congregational life's attractiveness depends largely upon the relationship between three factors: social context, Chinese Protestant ideology, and interaction rituals. The findings presented here suggest that conversion is best supported when these three factors are isologous (or "in sync").

Subject Area

Religion|Sociology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Abel, Andrew Stuart, "“It's the people here”: A study of ritual, conversion, and congregational life among Chinese Christians" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3325322.