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Walking the Neighborhood

One easy way to learn about your congregation is to take a walking tour of the area surrounding it: take note of what’s familiar and what’s not.
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Existing Research

Many researchers have made important contributions towards our understanding of congregations. We can help you know what they know.
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Talking Through History

History is both a story and a resource. Collectively developing a timeline can help deepen a congregation’s self-understanding and it’s a great way to build community.
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The Toolkit

Want to better understand your congregation? Our free PDF downloads feature the tools you'll need. Educators take note: They're perfect for use in seminary classrooms!
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Congregational Studies

For over thirty years the Congregational Studies Team has brought together leading scholars in the fields of sociology of religion and practical theology.
Meet the Team

Buy the Handbook

Prefer paper? Love a good throwback in time? Want more examples and exercises for understanding your congregation? Buy Studying Congregations: A New Handbook.
Buy it now!

From the Toolkit: Talking Through History

The Studying Congregations Toolkit gives you the tools you need to better understand a congregation. These PDF downloads were created especially for seminarians and religious leaders. The "Talking Through History" resource teaches you how to create a congregational timeline and learn from it.
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From the Blog

The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs: An Invitation to Dream

“What will make your heart sing?” When I first became director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy...
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Introducing: The New StudyingCongregations.org

After eight months of behind-the-scenes planning, the resource staff is excited to announc...
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Ellen Childs Signs Off With: “Just Try It!”

  After three years developing StudyingCongregations.org, I’ve spent a lot of time...
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The Disabled Church: Desiring Difference within Congregational Life

How does a congregation make time and space for the disabilities and differences of those who...
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About Us

StudyingCongregations.org is the premier resource for understanding religious congregations in the United States. A collaborative project of leading scholars in the fields of sociology of religion, history, and practical theology, the strategies, resources and tools you will discover on this site have been designed specifically for theological educators, future religious leaders, and anyone else who wants to go beyond the received wisdom to discover what is happening in religious gatherings today.

This resource is offered to you as a gift of the Congregational Studies Team, an informal research group that has led the way in researching US congregations. Their work is generously funded by The Lilly Endowment.

Resource Team

  • From Our Director

    Exploring the life of a religious community – your own or one unlike any you’ve seen before – is worth doing and worth doing well. Whether you are just curious or trying to solve a problem, it helps to have a guide. This site is your guide to the research that already exists and the research you can do. It is your guide to seeing congregations in new ways. Welcome!
  • Our Staff

    Nancy T. Ammerman, Project Director
    nta@bu.edu

    Ellen Childs, Website Director
    echilds@bu.edu

    Timothy Snyder, Managing Director
    tksnyder@bu.edu
  • About the Lilly Endowment

    The Religion Division of The Lilly Endowment has long had an interest in the role and purpose of religion in American life and strives to create opportunities across the country to learn more about the subject through research, to encourage the development of a new generation of talented ministers, nurture the excellent ministers who practice their faith every day, and build healthy and vibrant congregations.