- Theological Education
Best Resources for Congregational Research
Congregational Research and What it Means to Your Parish
Faith Communities Today (FACT) disseminates the results of research generated by representatives of more than 25 faith groups who conduct biannual surveys of their respective communities. Results of these surveys are available as free downloads, and hard copies may be purchased inexpensively in booklet form. The research is also analyzed and discussed through the organization's “Newsletters,” “Publications” and “News.”
The Hartford Institute for Religion Research gathers information about current American religious life as well as contemporary judicatory structure, changing internal dynamics and evolving relationships to local congregations. If you want to conduct a survey of your own congregation, see the section on “Congregational Studies” and the page that introduces tools for the study of congregations, or participate in the Hartford Institute’s ongoing Congregational Assessment program to develop a profile of your faith community, take an in-depth look at your congregational dynamics, and identify the attributes your congregation needs in its next pastor.
The National Congregations Study is a survey of a wide range of characteristics and activities of American churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship through interviews with ministers, priests, rabbis and other leaders. The website allows you to work directly with the survey responses to discover basic facts about congregational social composition, structures, activities and programming, or to create customized tables of cross-tabulated responses.
The U.S. Congregational Life Survey is the largest and most representative profile of worshippers and their congregations ever conducted in the United States. Church leaders may also sign up to conduct the survey in your local congregation. USCLS will interpret your returned surveys and provide a customized report of your community’s strengths, along with suggested resources for building on those and addressing any weaknesses.
The National Study of Youth and Religion offers in-depth information on the shape of religion and spirituality practiced by American youth, explores how religious beliefs influence contemporary youth and identifies the practices that effectively transmit religious, moral and social values to youth in lasting, formative ways. The site archives news releases and links to reports, articles and books based on the research.
Archives, Church Research and Data About American Congregations
The Association of Religion Data Archives stores more than 900 data sets from respected scholars and research centers. You can skim the basics by using the U.S. Congregational Membership, QuickStats and QuickLists tabs, or dig progressively more deeply into the wide range of historic and contemporary data on the site using the analysis tools provided. There is a Congregational Resources Center that will help you to answer questions like: What does my community look like? How does my congregation/religious tradition compare to others? And what religion research is in the news? You can also use the Congregational Profile Builder to access free online social, economic, and religious information about your community.
Pulpit & Pew is a completed interdenominational research project that assessed the state of the pastorate in the U.S. Conducted between 2001 and 2004, the project resulted in groundbreaking books, reports, essays and articles on the life of American clergy at the beginning of the 21st century.