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Best Resources

Best Resources for Community Engagement

Most faith groups have traditionally called upon adherents to reach out to neighbors and strangers who are in need, to express their faithfulness through compassionate action and to engage their secular communities in ways that ennoble the human family and honor the gift of life.

Engaging Your Church And Your Neighbors

The U.S. Congregational Life Survey, the largest and most representative profile of worshippers and their congregations ever conducted in the United States, canvassed every worshipper age 15 and older who was in attendance on the day of the survey in every surveyed congregation. The result is a comprehensive picture of life in American faith communities as experienced by those who fill the pews.

Faith & Leadership, a faith community leadership education website sponsored by Duke Divinity School, has a page of resources devoted to the Christian principles and practices of mission, offering resources that promote a “Traditioned Innovation” approach to community engagement.  

Since 1974, the Alban Institute has been a major resource for American congregations facing the challenges of a changing society. Alban helps shape strong congregations through its publishing, education, consultation, research and online activities.

Additional Resources for Connecting With Your Secular Community

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship promotes the study of Christian worship and the renewal of worship in worshipping communities. The site houses informative and inspiring tools for Connect Community Service and Corporate Worship, and other tools for engaging your church's neighbors.

Auburn Theological Seminary seeks to take theological education into churches and community settings, offering a selection of documentaries and discussion tools that let congregations explore a range of contemporary social and cultural issues by entering into the lives of real people who are caught up in, or are addressing, those concerns. Explore Auburn’s Featured Documentaries & Discussion Tools.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research pursues policy-relevant research in anticipation of emerging issues and seeks to disseminate learning as broadly as possible. In a list of Quick Answers, the institute responds to the question “How do congregations provide for the needy?” by outlining four different relief strategies, with links to a research report that explores the ways congregations deliver aid. The institute also hosts a page of links that offers perspectives on how various faith communities have become engaged in mission to their surrounding communities.

The Center for Congregations' task is to strengthen Indiana congregations as they negotiate challenges and opportunities. Extensive field experience provides insight and guidance useful to congregations across the country wishing to more intentionally focused on providing mission-like outreach to their communities. The center notes that these resources are also helpful to congregations that simply want to better understand and serve their neighborhoods or want an alternative to a more traditional “mission trip” experience.

Additional Resources

Also look for additional resources on the Insights into Religion website, particularly under the “Congregations: Civic Engagement” and "Research: Congregational Research" headings.

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