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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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From the Archives: “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 homebound, to preaching or...
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From the Archives: “4 Ways to Reconsider Your Congregation”

We talk a lot on studyingcongregations.org 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...
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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 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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From the Archives: “What do we know about congregational size?”

Question: What do we know about congregational size? In the United States, most congregations are smaller than 100 people, but most people attend congregations that are large. This points to the fact that many people attend “megachurches,” or churches larger than...
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From Evaluation to Engagement

Figuring out whether or not a program works poses an interesting challenge. It’s something that leaders often want to do, but the impact of our work is often in the everyday lives of people, and it would be impractical to follow people around all day. In one recent program...
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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 definition of a megachurch developed at Hartford Seminary Institute for Religion Research...
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Lent & Ramadan under the Same Roof

“Calling ISIS ‘Muslim’ is like going to KFC, sitting down to eat a bucket of chicken, and calling yourself a ‘vegetarian’.” This protest against the way Islam is portrayed in Western media was but one of the insights I gained while conducting congregational studies in a church...
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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 dining, music (yes, sometimes dancing), and a bit of Shabbat tradition.” Numbers are...
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When Congregation-Based Activism Is…Complicated

Though most conservative Christian organizations, denominations, and congregations have abandoned explicitly homophobic rhetoric in their arguments against gay rights in their effort to craft a politically viable position, others have increased the volume (and, through social...
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