Congregations in America by Mark Chaves

By Mark Chaves

Extra americans belong to spiritual congregations than to the other type of voluntary organization. What those big numbers quantity to--what everyone is doing within the over 300,000 church buildings, synagogues, mosques, and temples within the United States--is a query that resonates via each zone of yankee society, relatively in those occasions of "faith-based initiatives," "moral majorities," and militant fundamentalism. And it's a query spoke back intensive and intimately in Congregations in the United States. Drawing at the 1998 nationwide Congregations Study--the first systematic research of its kind--as good as a vast variety of quantitative, qualitative, and historic proof, this ebook offers a entire assessment of the main major type of collective non secular expression in American society: neighborhood congregations. between its extra outstanding findings, Congregations in the USA finds that, regardless of the media specialize in the political and social actions of non secular teams, the humanities are literally way more crucial 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 usually site visitors in ritual, wisdom, and wonder during the cultural actions of worship, non secular schooling, and the humanities. besides clarifying--and debunking--arguments on each side of the controversy over faith-based tasks, the knowledge offered the following includes a special and necessary source, answering formerly unanswerable questions about the scale, nature, makeup, funds, actions, and proclivities of those firms on the very heart of yank lifestyles. (20040419)

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Controlling for other things, we find that larger congregations and congregations with larger budgets do more social services.

By any measure, most congregations are small. S. congregations have fewer than one hundred regular participants, counting both adults and children; 71 17 m e m b e r s , m o n e y, a n d l e a d e r s percent have fewer than one hundred regularly participating adults. 1 The small size of most congregations represents only half the story, however, since the size distribution of American congregations is very skewed. That is, even though there are relatively few large congregations with many members, sizable budgets, and numerous staff, these large congregations contain most of the people involved in organized religion in the United States.

Those who remain in congregations are as generous as ever, perhaps more so, producing overall increases in the total number of dollars received by American congregations. At the same time, congregations have been using more and more of their income to maintain their local operations. 10 In part this trend probably is produced by increased clergy salaries. 11 It also seems likely that increases in other expenses, such as health insurance and energy, have led congregations to spend more to maintain their basic operations.

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