I recently received my copy of the National Congregations Study due to my participation in the process. The NCS was directed by Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity at Duke University. The study gathered information from 3,185 congregations from across the religious spectrum. What follows are some of the important results from the research.
1. The number of congregations claiming no denominational affiliation increased from 18% in 1998 to 24% in 2012.
2. White mainline congregations, and the people in those congregations, are older than the congregations and people of other religious traditions.
3. Most congregations are small but most people are in large congregations. The average congregation is getting smaller, but the average church goer attends a larger congregation.
4. People in smaller congregations give more money to their churches than do people in larger congregations.
5. Worship services have become more informal and expressive.
6. 10% of church goers worship in a multi-site congregation.
7. American solo or senior pastoral leaders are more ethnically diverse and older, but not more female than they were in 1998.
8.Food assistance is by far the most common kind of social service actively pursued by congregations, with more than half listing food assistance among their four most important social service programs.
9. 13% of all congregations are led by a volunteer solo or senior pastor.
10. Women could, in principle, serve as a senior or solo pastoral leaders in 58% of American congregations. However, only 11% of those same congregations have a woman serving as a solo or senior pastor.
What do you think? Any surprises?