A sect is a subgroup of a religious, political or philosophical belief system, usually an offshoot of a larger religious group. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and principles. Sects are smaller, less highly organised grouping of committed believers who usually set themselves up in protest at what a church has become. Sects usually have members who are usually numbered around the couple of hundred mark, showing the main difference between them and the church.
According to Troeltsch (1931), sects are essentially the polar opposite of churches. They are much smaller
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Niebuhur (1929) argued that sects couldn’t survive more than a generation without change. The main reasons for this are the fact that sects were based upon adult commitment that was voluntary, meaning people choose whether or not to follow the religion. If children are bought into the world by these people then they cannot have the same commitment as their parents because they have to give adult commitment, meaning the sect hardly ever gets carried through generations. Also, the fact that sects rely on a charismatic leader can be seen as a flaw as this means the sects die with their leader, meaning that they will ever become anything more than a short lived trend. The final reason would be that some of the sects ideas would be the killing of them as an ascetic creed will encourage followers to work hard and save their money, this would make them richer and allow them to become socially mobile, meaning they would no longer need the sect.
However there is evidence to believe that sects can last longer than a generation. Sociologists like Wilson (2003) therefore argue against Niebuhur by saying that sects like, the Quakers and Pentecostalists have lasted for a long time. They have done this by recruiting the children from their formal members and integrating them into the sect. This helped keep the sects in isolation from influences of wider society.
In conclusion most sociologist such as weber and Troeltsch state that sects