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From the Archives: “4 Ways to Reconsider Your Congregation”

We talk a lot on 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 used to thinking about your congregation in a particular way. Perhaps you consider the ways in which different groups interact, and the power dynamics involved in decision-making. Or maybe you think about the important rituals and symbols within the congregation as ways to motivate or instigate action. Perhaps you think specifically about the individual people — their demographics — and what sorts of groups you are looking to reach out to....
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From the Archives: “Implicit Assumptions and Expectations: Spell Them Out”

Many religious leaders struggle with fitting into new congregations. Congregants may have...
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From the Archives: “4 Ways to Reconsider Your Congregation”

We talk a lot on about Frames for Studying Congregations. We use the...
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Piecing Together Resources

By R. Stephen Warner     During worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church (Evanston,...
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From the Archives: “Why are young adults leaving their churches?”

Question:  Why are all the young adults leaving the churches that their families have been part...
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From the Toolkit: Digging in the Attic

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. Many religious organizations produce a lot of written, recorded, and online materials each week. They can be valuable internal resources that offer a map of where your organization has been, and where it is headed.
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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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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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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.
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About Us 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.

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From the Archives: “Using Ritual to Assist in Change”

An article from the York, Pennsylvania Dispatch outlined how two churches used ceremony and ritual to merge. Trinity and Fourth United Methodist churches were set to merge, but instead of a more traditional merging ceremony, the planners opted to bring in a particular ritual...
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Featured Research

Social Engagement and the London Megachurch

The Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK has funded a three-year study of London’s megachurches and their social engagement activities, to be complete at the end of 2016. Using the...
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Producing Religion Online: Two Case Studies

RELEVANT Media Group  Cameron Strang founded RELEVANT Media Group in 2000 when he was 24 because he could not find a Christian platform that spoke to his peer group, and, as he puts it, “Sunday...
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Pop-Up Shabbat: A Dinner Community Case Study

Pop-Up Shabbat  is a pop-up restaurant inspired by Jewish culture and tradition in Brooklyn, NY. Each gathering lasts 3-4 hours and includes “slightly socially engineered mingling, family-style...
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