Professor of sociology, religion and divinity, Duke University
Mark Chaves specializes in the sociology of religion. Most of his research is on the social organization of religion in the United States. Among other projects, he directs the National Congregations Study (NCS), a wide-ranging survey of a nationally representative sample of religious congregations conducted in 1998, 2006-07 and 2012. NCS results have helped us to better understand many aspects of congregational life in the United States. Professor Chaves is the author of "Congregations in America" (Harvard, 2004), "Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations" (Harvard 1997) and many articles. His latest book, "American Religion: Contemporary Trends," was published in 2011 by Princeton University Press.
If your church cares about its youth growing up in the faith, it'll hire full-time youth ministers.
Not surprisingly, abortion and homosexuality. More surprisingly, international aid and poverty. And few actually demonstrate over anything.
You might think white conservative Protestants are more political than black or mainline Protestants or Catholics. You’d be wrong.
The initiative increased congregations’ interest in cooperating with government on social service. But actual congregational partnering with government has not increased at all.
Since debates homosexuality began to dominate the church landscape, more congregations have called themselves “conservative” and fewer are “in the middle.”
An astute comment here on C&R sent Chaves back to his study. His hypothesis, that the gap reflects a difference in resources, was only partly right.
Congregations are slightly wealthier and better educated than a decade ago. But those numbers are misleading. In fact, congregations tend to mirror social changes rather than catalyze them.
Religious leaders have often lamented that they have too many old people and too few young people. It turns out that such leaders in the US have good reason to worry.
Many people cheer when denominations weaken. They may fail to realize exactly how much crucial support denominations still provide.
Congregations hire consults for all sorts of reasons. Some of the reasons they give for doing so may surprise you. So too might some reasons they do not give.
'Okay, you can give a talk from the pulpit -- but no preaching.'
Only about 5% of American churchgoers attend a congregation led by a woman. The year, in case you're checking, is 2009.
This way of describing oneself is more common than it used to be, but its prevalence should not be exaggerated. The vast majority of Americans--approximately 80 percent--describe themselves as both spiritual and religious.
If there are more congregations hiring staff without seminary training, it's not because they devalue learning. It's because seminary-trained people are more expensive.
The Congregational Resource Guide (CRG) is an online tool designed to help leaders of all congregations find the right resources to address their unique challenges and needs. Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., the CRG is a program of the Center for Congregations.