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Implicit Assumptions and Expectations: Spell Them Out

Many religious leaders struggle with fitting into new congregations. Congregants may have implicit assumptions and expectations of the new leader — whether it’s what day the leader takes off, to how frequently he visits those who are...
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Technology as a Means for Communication

In what ways does your religious community use technology? Mark Chaves’ book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends (2011) outlines the growth in the use of technology in congregations from 1998 to 2006. In 1998, 17% of congregations had...
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The Introduction of Newcomers

The people who make up a congregation changes regularly — new babies are born, individuals and families move in and out of the community, and members die. Membership in religious organizations in the United States is a voluntary activity,...
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Lower Denominational Control: Effects of Changing Church Forms

Mark Chaves’ 2011 book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends, outlines a number of ways in which denominations have less and less control over individual congregations: 1 in 5 religious congregations in the United States are now...
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Rituals as an Indicator of Congregational Culture

One important way to examine your religious community’s culture is through its rituals. Rituals say something about who we are and what we hold dear, pointing to deeper meanings. In religious communities, these religious rituals outline...
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Toys are not Guns: Changing the Way our Children Play

In February 2013, our congregation had a month long celebration of Black History Month activities.  From film viewings to forums, the Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church of St. Louis, MO, had an array of opportunities to learn about historical...
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Building Strong Church Communities: A Sociological Perspective

At their deepest level, human beings are social creatures, in the image, Christians would say, of the Trinity itself.  But the individualistic bent of modern American society has led writers to focus more on the spiritual needs and growth of...
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Church Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Tom Ehrich wrote a commentary at the Washington Post outlining why “church shouldn’t be this hard.” He explains, My conclusion: Religion shouldn’t be this hard. An assembly that exists to help people shouldn’t be so willing to...
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New Sub-type of Catholicism: Charismatic Catholics

National Public Radio’s Code Switch examined the role of Charismatic Catholicism in Latino communities. A number of differences are obvious to attenders of Saint Anthony of Padua Church in the Bronx — the service is led by a woman,...
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