FACT square logoFaith Communities Today Newsletter 
Issue 25

Spring 2015




The latest research reports at  Faith Communities Today 


Facts on Worship: 2010 


Virtually Religious: 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 religions.



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New Book Reveals How Congregations Are Successfully Engaging New Generations


How Religious Congregations are Engaging Young Adults in America, the new book from Faith Communities Today (FACT), is now available on Amazon


The book includes case studies of religious congregations that have established a track record of getting young adults involved, data from the largest survey of American congregations and an excellent summary of other recent research on young adults. This information was gathered by the multi-faith coalition of researchers that sponsor FACT.


The volume begins with survey data showing that only 16 percent of local congregations in the nation attract a significant number of young adults. It includes ten case studies of congregations which provide a detailed look at what these groups are actually doing to get young adults to participate. These case studies draw from mainline and evangelical Protestant churches, a Catholic parish, an Orthodox church, a Jewish synagogue, Baha'i and Latter-Day Saints groups. Among the Protestant churches represented are an historically African American congregation and an Assembly of God. The book includes chapters summarizing related research and extracting a list of specific "best practices" based on the case studies. The book also includes an introduction, totaling thirteen chapters altogether.


Edited by Monte Sahlin and David Roozen, the executive secretary and chairman of CCSP respectively, the chapter authors represent a wide range of religions and include several young adult writers. They were brought together by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP) which has worked together in the FACT ongoing series of studies of congregations since the late 1990s. 


Entitled How Religious Congregations are Engaging Young Adults in America, the book is 262 pages and is available in paperback and as an eBook through Amazon.com.


Direct link to the listing on Amazon. 


Annual Meeting Scheduled Before ASR                   
The annual meeting of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP) will begin at 8:30 am Tuesday, August 18, and continue until 12:30 pm on Wednesday, August 19. As in past years, the meeting will use the facilities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America headquarters near O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. 

This meeting date was planned so that those who are interested can attend the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR) and the American Sociological Association annual meeting, which begins  Thursday, August 20, in downtown Chicago. The CCSP/FACT steering committee will meet Wednesday (August 19) immediately after the general meeting. The steering committee meeting will continue until 4 pm. Hotel information will be announced soon.
FACT 2015 Survey is in the Field
The schedule for the survey being conducted this year was finalized at a January meeting of the steering committee. During May all of the partners are expected to get their data sets to David Roozen at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. The combined, aggregate data set will be completed in time to have an initial report at the annual meeting in August. The final combined data set will be distributed to the partner organizations and the report authors in August.

August 27-30 during the annual meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association in Philadelphia there will be the initial news release about the survey. The report on trends in the core items that FACT has been following since its first survey in 2000 will be released in the Fall of 2015. A series of Webinars will also be launched in the Fall so that reports can be presented in a venue where questions can be asked. 


A series of news releases will be developed throughout the year:

  • The report on young adults in the life of congregations will be released in December 2015. This is key focus of the FACT 2015 survey, building on the case study research that FACT has published.
  • Next year there will be a key report from the survey on congregational vitality and change in the Spring. 
  • A key report on use of technology by congregations in the Fall at the 2016 Religion Newswriters Association annual meeting.

A decision whether to undertake a new qualitative research project will be made at the 2016 annual meeting. Plans for presentations at the Religion Research Association (RRA) in the Fall of 2016 should be developed as early as possible and partner organizations should plan to archive with FACT their reports on internal data from the 2015 survey.



Lyle Schaller has died
One of the best known writers and speakers on the life of congregations, Lyle E. Schaller died on March 18, 2015, at 91 years of age. He was a speaker at a CCSP annual meeting and the author or co-author of 94 books. He is survived by Agnes, his wife of 69 years, as well as their six children and give grandchildren.

Warren Bird, who represents Leadership Network in the FACT coalition, in 2012 authored a book entitled Wisdom of Lyle Schaller which include a 40-page biography and a collection of sayings arranged by topics such as growth, mergers, turnaround, succession, etc. It was issued by Abingdon Press which had been Schaller's publisher for many years.

Thumma and Stetzer Quoted by Vox on Megachurches
More than one in ten Protestant church members attend a megachurch. When Vox reported this fact it attributed it to Scott Thumma, who is a key member of the FACT coalition as professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary. The same article quoted Ed Stetzer, who is a senior researcher for Lifeway Research of the Southern Baptist Convention and has been a part of the FACT coalition.
If megachurches as a group "were a Protestant denomination, it would be the nation's second largest such group," Vox quoted Thumma. It includes a link to the survey of megachurches that Thumma directed as part of FACT 2010.

"There are as many megachurches today in the greater Nashville areas there were in the entire country in 1960," Stetzer is quoted. It is linked to a column he wrote for Christianity Today in February 2013.

New Journal Focuses on Video Games
Scholarly research and reflection on videogames, religion and culture is the focus of a new journal launched in January and named Gamenvironments. There is evidence that video games play an important role in cultural and religious socialization, suggests Xenia Zeiler, associate professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki in Finland. It is published online at www.gamenvironments.com.
For further information about FACT, or to learn how to join the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership, contact David Roozen at roozen@hartsem.edu.