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New Research: Religion as Social Support

All around us, we face requests for help. Colleagues may ask us for advice, friends may need a listening ear, a social service organization may be raising funds or looking for more volunteers, and an elderly family member may need our care. Social scientists have found that...
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Church Search Committees: Look Here!

Marion Aldridge at abpnews examines the issue of conflicting congregational identity in his latest commentary. He writes, Nowadays, I see a lot of confused churches. They don’t know who they are. Confused congregations often call confused pastors. That is a disaster. Or, just as...
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Understanding Your Community’s Culture

How do you best understand your community’s culture? When thinking about culture, people often think about social or racial heritage. People within the community will speak the same language, with the same accent. The people in your community likely have the same levels of...
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Difficulties of Diversity – Why So Few Congregations are Racially Integrated

Question: Why are so few congregations racially integrated? Racial diversity in congregations is a popular topic among religious leaders and researchers of religion. Despite a desire for diversity, multiracial congregations are difficult to create and sustain. Less than one in...
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How is your congregation oriented to the community?: Mission Orientation

There are four basic ways of relating the congregation to its community, according to a study of congregations in Hartford, Connecticut (Roozen, McKinney and Carroll, 1994).  These orientations align closely with theology, but vary slightly. These orientations stem from...
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Commitment to the Congregation: Measurement Best Practices

How do you study how committed people are to your religious group? Do you look to attendance? Financial giving? Volunteering? Serving on committees or teams? One way to better understand this issue is to bring together a focus group from your congregation. Use a list like the one...
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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 homebound, to preaching or...
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