CHURCH TRENDS & Most Impt. Observations from The National Congregations Survey (NCSIII) #Duke #MarkChaves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The National Congregations Study (NCSIII) is, along with The American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving survey by David A. Roozen, one of the best snapshots of American Christianity and where it is going. You can download the free and complete report here.

Mark Chaves and Alison Eagle begin their report with what they designate some of their “most important observations” including:

  • The number of congregations claiming no denominational affiliation increased from 18% in 1998 to 24% in 2012
  • White mainline congregations, and the people in those congregations, are older than the congregations and people of other religious traditions
  • Most congregations are small but most people are in large congregations
  • People are increasingly concentrated in very large congregations
  • The average congregation is getting smaller, but the average churchgoer attends a larger congregation
  • People in smaller congregations give more money to their churches than do people in larger congregations
  • Worship services have become more informal and expressive
  • 10% of churchgoers worship in multi-site congregations
  • American solo or senior pastoral leaders are more ethnically diverse and older, but not more female, than they were in 1998
  • Thirteen percent (13%) of congregations are led by volunteer senior or solo pastoral leaders
  • Assistant and associate ministers and specialized congregational staff constitute 42% of the full-time ministerial work force and three-quarters (74%) of the part-time ministerial work force.
  • Compared to solo and senior pastoral leaders, secondary ministerial staff are more female, younger, less likely to be seminary educated, and more likely to have been hired from within the congregation
  • There is increasing ethnic diversity over time both among and within American congregations
  • Food assistance is by far the most common kind of social service activity pursued by congregations, with more than half (52%) of all congregations listing food assistance among their four most important social service programs
  • When congregations lobby elected officials or participate in demonstrations or marches, the issues they most commonly engage are poverty, abortion, and same-sex marriage
  • Acceptance of female lay leadership is very widespread, with 79% of congregations allowing women to hold any volunteer position a man can hold, and 86% allowing women to serve on the main governing board
  • Congregational acceptance of gays and lesbians as members and lay leaders increased substantially between 2006 and 2012, but acceptance levels vary widely across religious traditions

The National Congregations Study was directed by Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity at Duke University. This report was written by Mark Chaves and Alison Eagle, and designed by Spring Davis. It is a much revised and updated version of American Congregations at the Beginning of the 21st Century, written by Mark Chaves, Shawna Anderson, and Jason Byassee after the 2006 NCS.

Download the survey here:  National Congregations Study (NCSIII) .

RELIGIOSITY & Americans Skeptical Of God But Think Heaven Is Real, Somehow

By Joshua A. Krisch, Vocativ News, Mar 21, 2016.

The United States formally separates Church and State, but it’s hard to deny that America is inundated with religious innuendo, from its controversial pledge of allegiance all the way down to its Judeo-Christian courthouse displays and faith-espousing legal tender. Yet fewer Americans pray or believe in God than ever before, according to a new study in the journal Sage Open.

Researchers found that the percentage of Americans who claim they never pray reached an all-time high in 2014, up five-fold since the 1980s. Over the same time period, belief in God and interest in spirituality appears to have similarly declined, especially among young adults.

The findings suggest that, “millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history,” says Jean M. Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State University and coauthor on the study, in a press statement. “Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways. That’s no longer the case, especially in the last few years…”

The notion that the U.S. is inching away from organized religion is nothing new. Throughout the 2000s, studies repeatedly found that many Americans had lost faith in religious institutions. But scientists suspected the shift was from organized religion, rather than spirituality—that Americans had stopped attending formal services, but that they still prayed and believed in private…

But this new study suggests that Americans have a problem with God—and that our spiritual issues run deeper than paltry mistrust of religious institutions.

For the study, researchers pulled 58,893 entries from the GSS, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults. The results suggest a steep decline in the number of Americans who pray, believe in God, take the Bible literally, attend religious services or identified as religious—all factors that should have relatively little to do with America’s skepticism of large institutions.

Read more at … http://www.vocativ.com/news/299168/americans-pray-think-heaven-is-real/

ATTENDANCE & Church of England decline heralds calls for innovative use of church buildings #TheUKGuardianNewspaper

by Esther Addley, The Guardian Newspaper, 6/8/15.

According to the annual British Social Attitudes survey, in just two years between 2012 and 2014, the number of people describing their beliefs as being Church of England or Anglican fell from 21% to 17%, a loss of 1.7 million people – leading the former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, to repeat warnings that the church is “a generation away from extinction”.

Britain is not necessarily becoming more godless – in the same period, the number of Muslims grew by a million, amounting to 2.4% of the population – just less the proportion of Anglicans. That has implications enough for the church in the inner city, but what are the ramifications in the countryside where, for a thousand years, the Church of England has often been the institution that holds rural communities together?..

Read more at … http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/07/church-of-england-decline-heralds-calls-for-innovative-use-of-church-buildings

EVANGELICALS & Compared with other Christian groups, evangelicals’ dropoff is less steep

by DAVID MASCI, Pew Research, 5/15/15

Number of Evangelical Protestants GrowingUnlike some other groups of Christians in the U.S., evangelical Protestants have not declined much as a share of the U.S. population in recent years, according to a major new Pew Research Center study.

Our 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that since 2007, when a similar survey was conducted, the share of evangelical Protestants has fallen only modestly, from 26.3% of the adult population to 25.4%. By contrast, both Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants have declined by more than three percentage points during the same period.

Looking at the raw numbers, the evangelical population actually appears to have grown slightly over the last seven years, rising from roughly 60 million to about 62 million. Again, this contrasts with mainline Protestants and Catholics, who together have lost several million adherents during the same time period.

Evangelicals Make Small Gains Through Religious Switching

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/15/compared-with-other-christian-groups-evangelicals-dropoff-is-less-steep/

RELIGION & Is Christianity in America doomed? #PewResearch

by David Linker, The Week, 5/15/15.

(Based on Pew Research)…The future of religion in America depends to a considerable extent on the future spiritual disposition of the “nones” — the religiously unaffiliated Americans who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” Their remarkably rapid growth — up from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent of the population in just seven years — is closely connected to the fact that more than one third (36 percent) of the so-called Millennial generation declines to affiliate with any religion. As elderly Americans, who are far more religious, die off, they are being replaced, demographically, by what seems to be the most secular generation in American history.

It’s clear that these young people have little interest in taking part in religious traditions or institutions. But are they truly godless? And will their lack of faith persist as they age?

The answers to those questions are what will determine the shape of America’s religious, cultural, and moral character over the coming decades.

Teasing out the answers with any confidence will require more polling. But the current Pew poll can get us started — and point pollsters in the direction of the kinds of questions they need to start asking the religiously unaffiliated.

Pew helpfully breaks the nones down into three groups:

* Those who describe themselves as atheist or agnostic. (25 percent in 2007; 31 percent in 2014.)

* Those who claim to be “nothing in particular” and consider religion either not at all important or not very important. (Steady at 39 percent from 2007 to 2014.)

* Those who claim to be “nothing in particular” but nonetheless consider religion to be somewhat or very important. (36 percent in 2007; 30 percent in 2014.)..

Read more at … http://theweek.com/articles/555177/christianity-america-doomed

RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE & 7.5 million people left religion since 2012: Three graphs from latest General Social Survey

by Tobin Grant, Corner of Church and State, 3/13/15.

When asked their “religious preference”, nearly one-in-four Americans now says “none.” Up until the 1990s, this group of so-called “nones” hovered in the single digits. The 2014 GSS showed that the so-called nones are 21 percent. How large is this group of nones? There are nearly as many Americans who claim no religion as there are Catholics (24 percent). If this growth continues, in a few years the largest “religion” in the U.S. may be no religion at all.

Read more at … http://tobingrant.religionnews.com/2015/03/12/7-5-million-people-left-religion-since-2012-three-graphs-latest-general-social-survey/

FOREIGN-BORN & U.S. immigrant population projected to rise, even as share falls among Hispanics, Asians #PewResearch

BY ANNA BROWN, Pew Research, 3/12/15.

Foreign-Born Share of Population to Reach Historic High by 2060The nation’s foreign-born population is projected to reach 78 million by 2060, making up 18.8% of the total U.S. population, according to new Census Bureau population projections. That would be a new record for the foreign-born share, with the bureau projecting that the previous record high of 14.8% in 1890 will be passed as soon as 2025.

Yet while Asian and Hispanic immigrants are projected to continue to be the main sources of U.S. immigrant population growth, the new projections show that the share of the foreign born is expected to fall among these two groups. Today, 66.0% of U.S. Asians are immigrants, but that share is predicted to fall to 55.4% by 2060. And while about a third of U.S. Hispanics (34.9%) are now foreign-born, the Census Bureau projects that this share too will fall, to 27.4% in 2060. These declines are due to the growing importance of births as drivers of each group’s population growth. Already, for Hispanics, U.S. births drive 78% of population growth.

Census Projects Share of Asian, Hispanic Population Born Abroad to Fall by 2060

Meanwhile, foreign-born shares among whites and blacks are expected to rise. Today, 8.9% of those who identify as black were born in another country, but that number is projected to almost double – to 16.5% – by 2060. Among whites, 4.1% are foreign-born today, but that share is projected to double to 8.1% in 2060…

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/09/u-s-immigrant-population-projected-to-rise-even-as-share-falls-among-hispanics-asians/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=25f849efeb-Newsletter_Mar_12_20153_12_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-25f849efeb-399907237