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Using the Census: A Case Study – Oak Park, IL & Anderson, IN

An important part of any congregational study is understanding the history and ecology of the community. These changes can involve racial or cultural changes to the community, like the example from Oak Park Illinois. Other important changes can be the growth or decline of local...
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The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work and Religion among American Catholics

My recent book The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work and Religion among American Catholics, was the product of a comparative ethnographic project which began with the simple question:  Why are contemporary conflicts about the family—such as abortion, women’s social roles, same-sex...
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Technology as a Means for Communication

In what ways does your religious community use technology? Mark Chaves’ book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends (2011) outlines the growth in the use of technology in congregations from 1998 to 2006. In 1998, 17% of congregations had websites. By 2006, that number had...
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Lower Denominational Control: Effects of Changing Church Forms

Mark Chaves’ 2011 book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends, outlines a number of ways in which denominations have less and less control over individual congregations: 1 in 5 religious congregations in the United States are now unaffiliated (Chaves 2011). Moreover, 1 in...
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Building Strong Church Communities: A Sociological Perspective

At their deepest level, human beings are social creatures, in the image, Christians would say, of the Trinity itself.  But the individualistic bent of modern American society has led writers to focus more on the spiritual needs and growth of individuals than on the needs and...
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