People of faith around the world gather.

With this website, we explore why and how they do. No matter what form the gathering takes—a parish, synagogue, mosque, temple, prayer circle, etc.—these are transformational human communities with religious and spiritual purposes. Whether your aim is to understand them or to lead them, learning to see these communities in all their human joy and messiness is essential. So we invite you to understand, to explore and to engage.


This website builds on two generations of insight by scholars & leaders who have developed ways of thinking about congregations. We call them “frames” because by seeing through the lens of ecology, theology, culture, resources, and processes of a gathering, we move toward deeper understanding.


Experts in the social sciences, theology, and ritual studies have great insight into these transformational communities. Return often for new observations from the field, search our archives for articles that answer your questions, and explore our searchable bibliographic database to start your reading list.


If you want to better understand a congregation, whether your own or another, it’s time to engage in your own research project! Our PDF toolkit introduces the tools you can use. Educators take note: they’re perfect for use in seminary, religious studies, or social science classrooms!

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