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What the Census Can Tell a Congregation

Using resources like the US Census’ county and neighborhood statistical information can be useful to better understand how your congregation fits into the broader community. Check out our overview on using census data here.

After looking at your community’s census data, consider the population distributions of your community and your congregation. In what ways are they similar or different? Which communities are being served by your community (in terms of age, race, family status)? What communities are not? Which communities are you in a position to reach out to more — can you develop compelling new opportunities for community outreach because of the census statistics?

You can also look back at previous year’s and decade’s census information. How has the community shifted over time? Has your congregation followed that shift, or do you continue to have the same demographics within the congregation? Investigate population declines (the number of people who are in the community), ages, racial or ethnic identities, occupational changes, and any other statistics reported to examine how things may have changed within your community. Using this comparative method of examining statistics may allow you to understand recent growth or decline within your congregation.

Ellen Childs
About the Author
Dr. Ellen Childs holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Notre Dame. She is Website Director at StudyingCongregations.org