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Before the Disaster Strikes

As disasters strike – all too often, it seems – we often see churches, synagogues and mosques in the news. They may be shelters or food distribution centers or coordinators of volunteers or places to comfort and grieve. As the most ubiquitous form of voluntary organization in the...
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Taking the Measure of American Congregations

The most recent report from the National Congregations Study  was released in December, 2015, and it allows interested students of congregational life to learn a great deal about what is typical and what is not.  Begun in 1998, this is the third wave of the survey, so it not only...
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Affiliation Matters

The latest Pew Religious Landscape Survey is full of interesting insights into changes occurring in American religion. As I look at these survey results, here are a few of the things I’ve noted. On most measures of religiosity (prayer, attendance, belief, etc.), those who are in...
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How Are We Doing?

One of the reasons people get interested in learning more about a congregation is often that they want to know how they are doing. Are we healthy? Are we happy? Are we growing? And are we fulfilling our mission? Ah – now there’s a reason to take stock! That, of course, assumes...
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Beyond the “People”: The Stories Congregational Buildings Tell by Nancy Ammerman

Two stories this week have me thinking about that old children’s finger play – “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.”  Congregations certainly are “the people.”  But most are also the building and all the “stuff” they accumulate. Lots of...
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The Reality Behind “Spiritual But Not Religious”

Question: I hear a lot about people being “spiritual, but not religious.” What does that mean? “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious” is a common refrain in contemporary conversations.  Many people seem eager to claim a connection with...
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Why are young adults leaving their churches?

Question:  Why are all the young adults leaving the churches that their families have been part of for generations?  If we change our worship style to be more like the churches they are now attending, will they come back? There are lots of issues behind this question, and many of...
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