Congregations in America by Mark Chaves

By Mark Chaves

Extra americans belong to non secular congregations than to the other type of voluntary organization. What those massive numbers quantity to--what individuals are doing within the over 300,000 church buildings, synagogues, mosques, and temples within the United States--is a question that resonates via each region of yank society, relatively in those instances of "faith-based initiatives," "moral majorities," and militant fundamentalism. And it's a query responded intensive and intimately in Congregations in the US. Drawing at the 1998 nationwide Congregations Study--the first systematic research of its kind--as good as a large diversity of quantitative, qualitative, and ancient facts, this publication offers a finished assessment of the main major type of collective non secular expression in American society: neighborhood congregations. between its extra extraordinary findings, Congregations in the United States finds that, regardless of the media specialise in the political and social actions of non secular teams, the humanities are literally way more primary to the workings of congregations. the following we see how, faraway from emphasizing the pursuit of charity or justice via social prone or politics, congregations ordinarily site visitors in ritual, wisdom, and sweetness during the cultural actions of worship, spiritual schooling, and the humanities. besides clarifying--and debunking--arguments on each side of the talk over faith-based projects, the data provided the following includes a special and precious source, answering formerly unanswerable questions on the dimensions, nature, makeup, funds, actions, and proclivities of those businesses on the very middle of yank existence. (20040419)

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S. population (Sherkat 1999; Smith 2001)—but their numbers are growing, and it is safe to say that religious diversity will continue to pose both opportunities and challenges for American congregations. Money The vast majority of congregational income comes from individual donations. Three quarters of congregations receive at least 90 percent of their income from individual donations, and about 80 percent of all the money going to religious congregations comes from individual donations. Because religious congregations depend almost entirely on donations from individuals, declining participation ought to produce declining revenue.

Many Baptist congregations, for example, are independent, eschewing formal affiliation with specific Baptist groups such as the Southern or National Baptist Conventions. For some analytical purposes we may want to highlight the nondenominational aspect of these congregations; for other purposes we may want to highlight their Baptist religious tradition. Several religious traditions, moreover, are represented in the United States by more than one formal denomination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), for example, is a distinct denomination from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, though both are Lutheran in religious tradition.

In Chapter 3 I return to this subject in detail. For now I note only that clearly understanding key features of how people are distributed into large and small congregations is of more than academic interest. Denomination and Religious Tradition Another major source of variation among congregations is their affiliation (or lack thereof) with denominations and religious traditions. Organizationally, individuals do not, in general, directly become members of denominations. 3 The character of these attachments varies substantially.

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