FACT square logoFaith Communities Today Newsletter 
Issue 22August 2013 



The latest research reports at Faith Communities Today 


FACTs on Worship: 2010 


Virtual Religion:

Technology and Internet Use in American Congregations


FACTs on Growth: 2010 


A Decade of Change in American Congregations--Trends 2000-2010


American Congregations Reach Out to Other Faith Traditions 


Holy Toll: The Impact of the 2008 Recession on American Congregations


Plus reports from participating 



Quick Links...
Join Our Mailing List 


Next Steps in Understanding How Congregations Engage Young Adults  


At a meeting in Chicago during the first week of August researchers from the major religions in America will plan their next steps in understanding how congregations engage young adults. They will review a set of case studies completed over the past year and begin development of a large survey to be conducted in 2015. The case studies focus on local congregations around the country with above-average numbers of young adults. The survey will seek to include all of the religious groups.


The Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership is the group at the core of the Faith Communities Today (FACT) studies that began with a major survey in 2000. Regular surveys every few years continue to track trends and the case studies have begun to use a new tool of "qualitative" research to look at particular local groups in detail.


The focus of the effort is simply what can be learned to help religious leaders connect with a new generation of young Americans who seem to be far less interested in organized religion than any previous generation on record. Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i and other faiths are represented in the group. 


A complete set of the 12 papers (as well as others to be added) is available at www.faithcommunitiestoday.org and the results of the meeting will be reported in the next issue of this newsletter. 


Trends Summarized in Article in Christian Century
In an article entitled "Crunching the numbers" in the April 2 issue of Christian Century William McKinney summarizes recent research on American religion, starting with the fact that "giving to religion ... topped $100 billion in 2010, putting it at nearly 1 percent of GDP." He mentions studies in recent years by Pew, Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and Mark Chaves of Duke University. He used much of the space to describe FACT research also.

"The past two decades have seen two important methodological breakthroughs that have improved our ability to observe trends and changes in congregations. One advance has been through the work of Faith Communities Today, a project initiated in the late 1990s at Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research."

McKinney summarizes two FACT reports: A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000-2010, by David A. Roozen and FACTs on Growth: 2010 by C. Kirk Hadaway. "These recent studies reveal the significant changes that have taken place in American religion over the past several decades. Rising costs at all levels, declining memberships, lower levels of denominational loyalty and competition for philanthropic dollars have combined to create a financial crisis for most organized religious communities. Some of the healthiest organizations (such as many colleges and hospitals) are the ones furthest removed from ecclesiastical control."

Death of Robert Bellah
One of the major figures in the sociology of religion, Robert N. Bellah passed away in the last few days. He "was perhaps the single most crucial figure in the re-emergence of the sociology of religion in the second half of the 20th century, through is own work and that of his doctoral students in their subsequent careers," said James Cavendish, executive officer of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR). He was a prominent voice "calling America to its higher ideals" from the 1950s into the 1990s. "After retirement, he published his magnum opus, Religion in Human Evolution (Harvard University Press, 2011)," the ASR announcement stated. He was the author of a number of other significant books.
Four New Research Reports

Ten Essential Skills the Next Generation of Clergy Will Need:   Some clergy skills are time-tested, such as listening and collaborating, but tomorrow's religious leaders will also need to be entrepreneurial in their membership and fundraising efforts, and will need to learn to communicate in entirely new ways. Insights Into Religion, a nondenominational, nonprofit website funded by the Lilly Endowment's Religion Division, offers a list of 10 essential skills the next generation of religious leaders will need to keep pace with the changing world. This skills list for the future is based on interviews with some of today's prominent clergy leaders and educators at organizations such as the African American Lectionary, the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, the Pastoral Excellence Network and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. A few of their responses surprised us and may surprise you, too!  Do you have what it takes to reach your faith community in the coming years? The detailed report is available on line.

The latest Pew Research Center information on young adults reports that a record 21.6 million of the Millennial generation were living with their parents last year due to a combination of economic, educational and cultural factors. A copy of the report can be downloaded from Pew.

The third report from the U.S. Mosque Study, focusing on "Women and the American Mosque," was released earlier this year. The authors are Dr. Sarah Sayeed and Aisha al-Adawiya from Women in Islam with Dr. Ihsan Bagby, a professor at the University of Kentucky and member of the FACT steering committee. The study includes data on women's participation in prayers, programs and governance of mosques. The full report is available at www.faithcommunitiestoday.org.

The Catholic Labyrinth: Power, Apathy and a Passion for Reform in the American Church is a new book by Peter McDonough from Oxford University Press, "a strong survey of current lay movements in the American Catholic Church," according to Library Journal. It is a more journalistic than sociological treatment and describes tensions between conservative and progressive forces that all religions feel today.


For further information about FACT, or to learn how to join the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership (CCSP), contact David Roozen at roozen@hartsem.edu.