Archival Document Analysis – also called “document analysis” or “content analysis,” this research method involves analyzing documents that already exist for key concepts or details. For congregations, these documents may include bulletins, newsletters, meeting minutes, or directories. For assistance in this process, check out the archival document analysis page and the content analysis protocol.
Culture – Broadly defined, is who we are and the world we have created to live in. More specifically, culture is the predictable patterns of who does what, and habitual strategies for telling the world about the things held most dear.
Cultural Frame – A way of viewing a group or organization by examining the important components of the shared group culture, including shared artifacts, heroes, and rituals. See our cultural frame page for more details.
Congregate – the act of coming together with others; in religious terms, the act of coming together in a congregation (see congregation)
Congregation – the bedrock of many individual and collective religious identities, involves individuals who come together in local, voluntary, lay-led, religious groups. This religious form is common within many religious groups, and within the United States has become the de facto form of religious adherence. For more information, see this post about de facto congregationalism.
Congregational Polity – also called “congregationalism” as a form of church polity, congregational polity places the seat of authority in the local religious assembly/congregation (or their leaders), rather than by denominational bishops (episcopal polity) or by a hierarchy of councils (presbyterian polity).
Congregational Studies – the interdisciplinary study of congregations and congregational life, from perspectives such as theology (especially practical theology), sociology, history, and psychology.
Congregational Timeline – A research method in which a focus group walks through the history of a congregation through the lens of the leadership, broader community and local change, denominational change, and broader cultural change. See the page on congregational timelines for more information.
Content Analysis – see Archival Document Analysis
Direct Observation – a research method where one systematically observes and describes what takes place in a social setting. See our page on direct observation and our observational protocol for more information.
Document Analysis – see Archival Document Analysis
Ecological Frame – a way of viewing a group or organization by examining what is going on outside the boundaries (physical or group boundaries) in the broader community, for example by looking at demographic change, broader cultural change, or organizational change. See our ecological frame page for more details.
Episcopal Polity – this form of church polity places the seat of authority in the denominational bishops and hierarchy, as opposed to the local congregation (congregational polity) or a hierarchy of councils (presbyterian polity)
Focus Groups – A research method in which a number of individuals from a similar group have a discussion (either structured or unstructured) about a particular topic. See our page on focus groups for more information.
Frames for Studying Congregations – also called “perspectives” or “lenses,” ways to examine congregations in different ways to highlight important aspects of the form and structure of the organization, check out the frames for studying congregations page
Interviews – A research method in which you ask questions to an individual, inviting the individual to share stories, accounts and explanations. A group interview is called a focus group. See our page on interviews for more information.
Questionnaire – also called a survey, this research method allows you to ask a group of people information regarding their biography, views and opinions, and actions. Questionnaires are often confidential or anonymous, and given to a group too large to interview individually. See our page on questionnaires and surveys for more information.
Presbyterian Polity – this form of church polity places the seat of authority in a hierarchy of councils, as opposed to the local congregation (congregational polity ) or the authority of denominational bishops (episcopal polity)
Process Frame – a way of viewing a group or organization by examining the way things get done, particularly by investigating the formal processes (the way things should be done) versus the informal processes (the way things are done). See our page on process frame for more details.
Research Methods – ways that one can systematically study a research question, focusing on ensuring that ones study is regimented, ordered, and organized by following the guidelines for different ways to research. See our page on research methods for more information.
Research Question – A specific area of interest for your research, written in the form of an interesting and answerable question that can be empirically examined using research methods. See our what’s your question page for more information.
Resources Frame – a way of viewing a group or organization by examining the types of available resources, including membership resources, commitment resources, financial/capital resources, physical/space resources. See our Resources Frame page for more details.
Space Tour – A research method in which you ask a focus group to walk through the group’s space explaining what areas are important or special, what each space is used for, eliciting stories from various rooms or areas, and generally understanding how the space is used. See our focus group page for more information.
Survey – also called a questionnaire, this research method allows you to ask a group of people information regarding their biography, views and opinions, and actions. Questionnaires are often confidential or anonymous, and given to a group too large to interview individually. See our page on questionnaires and surveys for more information.
Secondary Data Sources – A research method in which you use previously-collected data, such as the Census, to better understand a community. See our page on secondary data sources for more information.
Walking Tour – A research method in which one walks around the neighborhood, taking note of the types of what is happening in the neighborhood, including examining the types of businesses, homes, schools, and services that are provided, as well as how active and available individuals are. See our direct observation page for more information.