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From the Archives: “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? Imagine the following example: Mr. and Mrs. Black enter the congregation for the first time and are welcomed by greeters, and ushered up to the childcare area to drop off their 3-year-old for the worship time. Mr. and Mrs. Black poke around the church, and are welcomed by a few other members, and are brought into the service. After the service they pick up their child and continue on to coffee hour, recognizing a neighbor and someone who works in an office near to...
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More From the Blog

From the Archives: “Different Needs: Urban and Suburban Congregations”

The Houston Chronicle published a piece outlining the multi-site, First Methodist Church in...
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When Congregations Share Their Properties – 5 Principles for Good Decisions

Feature Photo Information: Muslim women perform Ramadan prayers at Heartsong Church, suburban...
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From the Archives: “6 Ways to Keep Congregational Conflicts Constructive”

Question: We are watching congregations all around us be torn apart by conflicts. How can we...
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From the Archives: “A View of Your Neighborhood: A Walking Tour”

One of the best ways to get a feel for the community around your congregation is to walk the...
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From the Toolkit: Talking Through History

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. To understand who we are in the present, we must consult our individual and collective past. Stories constitute our congregational identities. Creating a timeline can help us reroot and remember our shared histories.
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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

StudyingCongregations.org 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: “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?...
Read More →

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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