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Levels of Concern: Problems Facing Denominations

An eternal problem with denominations is that the broader denomination must be funded somehow, generally through payment from local congregations. And depending on the size of the denominational organization, those costs can be high. A recent Letter to the Editor in the Des...
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Faith-Based Property Development: Using Your Resources

Urban congregations across the country are dealing with aging buildings and declining rates of attendance, while the property values surrounding the congregation grow. Churches across New York City are leveraging their space and air rights to unused property to developers. This...
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Congregational Conflict: Listening to the Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of human interaction — there will be differences in opinion and perception in every day life. However, examining how your congregation deals with conflict can provide needed insights into the life of the congregation. Some congregations suppress...
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Maintaining Boundaries: The Process of Enforcing Expectations

New members to any group need to learn the unspoken rules and norms of the community. A newcomer may lack the history and understanding of “the way things are done here,” and may make embarrassing mistakes and missteps within the congregation. Perhaps a newcomer asked...
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Building Your Community: The Process of Assimilation

One important aspect of your congregation is recognizing the boundaries of who is included versus those who aren’t. A key way to understand the way the community is built is by examining the processes of assimilation — how are people brought into the community?...
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How to Read Social Science Papers

Maybe you’ve found a great quantitative social science journal article that seems interesting, but the structure and language is perhaps difficult or overwhelming. Below are some general strategies and commonly used vocabulary that should make the process easier. The guide...
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How to Ask a Congregation: Surveys and Questionnaires

Are you interested in knowing more about your local congregation, but don’t know how to start? We’ve got some resources for you. First, you need to figure out what you’re interested in knowing. You may want to know what time is best for Worship versus...
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4 Ways to Reconsider Your Congregation

We talk a lot on studyingcongregations.org about Frames for Studying Congregations. We use the word “frame” to mean ways to organize thoughts around the topic of studying congregation — you could also think of it as a lens or an orienting strategy. You might be...
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Ordaining Women: Results from the National Congregations Study

The Huffington Post published an article about the role of women in clergy roles in the United States, looking at data from the most recent wave of the National Congregations Survey. One of the most interesting parts is interactive graphic timeline examining when women were first...
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Examining a Jewish Enclave: Ecology and Resources

Michelle Boorstein at The Washington Post wrote an article about a small Jewish community in Western Maryland. Cumberland Maryland had been a Jewish enclave in the Appalachian Mountains, with four synagogues and many Jewish-owned stores and businesses. But now the Jewish...
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