The Disappearing Religious Gender Gap

It is relatively well known that America is a more religious country than most and that in America women are significantly more religious than men based on most traditional measures of religious belief and behavior. When I discuss religious behavior with a variety of audiences one measure resonates more than any other: attending religious services.  New research suggests that the once wide gender gap in religious service is now narrowing. More specifically, it was was cut in half from 1982 to Read More …

Global Decline in Religious Freedom

According to the recently released United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's 2016 Annual Report religious freedom decreased from February of 2015 to February of 2016.  The report also finds that "There are increasing opportunities for the U.S. government to work in concert with like-minded nations on issues relating to freedom of religion or belief." At nearly 300 pages in length, the report offers in-depth insight into the work of the Commission and the state of religious Read More …

Mainline Members – Political Leanings

If you know much about American Christianity, you may expect Mainline Protestants to be more likely to have more liberal political leanings than the average American.  The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study affords an unparalleled look at this topic by breaking down many of the larger religious denominations by what political party their members self-identify as leaning toward or with which they affiliate. Among all US adults the survey found that 37% are or lean Republican, Read More …

Reflections on Average Worship Attendance

Most American churches have relatively small memberships.  Since the accuracy of membership roles varies widely, average weekly worship attendance is often used to compare congregational size. Median American congregation has 75 attend weekly worship (National Congregations Survey) Average American congregation has 186 attend weekly worship (US Congregational Survey) Half (50%) of all church attendance is accounted for by the largest 10% of congregations - those with 350+ average weekly Read More …

Closing the Clergy Gender Pay Gap

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land in the USA for my entire life.  That legal expectation, however, has not translated into actual dollar per dollar gender equality. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates women earn just $0.83 for every dollar men earn. American Clergy Since the Christian church holds equality of all persons as a core value, one should reasonably expect it would be a model of pay equality.  Unfortunately, the pay gap for clergy is Read More …

Small Congregations – Big Challenges

While I have spent most of my life affiliated with large congregations, I realize that there are more small congregations than large ones and that small congregations increasingly face big challenges. The FACT The 2015 FACT (Faith Communities Today) research (American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving) was published earlier this month.  It is the latest survey in a series that started in 2000, and was repeated in 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2015.  Since the 2015 survey includes Read More …

Top Religions by State

There are many ways to look at America's top religions. The Public Religion Research Institute's new American Values Atlas offers a helpful way to consider the religious makeup of the United States on both a national and state level. National Perspective As a whole the top three religions in our country are Catholic - 22% Religiously unaffiliated - 22% White Evangelical Protestants - 18%. Personal Experience I have spent my life in Texas and Florida.  The largest religion Read More …

Last Blog Post

This will be my last blog post for awhile . . . History Six years and four months ago, I launched this site.  At that time, I never imagined that I would become a prolific blogger who would author 1,600 blog posts (an average of just over 250 a year!).  I also had not given any real consideration to what my life might look like if I were not employed by a church. Happening Now After serving Mainline Protestant congregations for fifteen years in a variety of capacities, I am Read More …

The Shrinking Dreams: America & Church

In her recent article in The Atlantic, Marianne Cooper considered data from a number of recent surveys before concluding that "people are downsizing their definition of the American dream." More specifically, she notes that "the desire to own a home or to move up economically is often replaced by a desire to be debt free and to have financial stability." What Next? Cooper rightly suggests that this general shift in perspective is likely to have many long term negative consequences as Read More …

The Irrelevant Church

A week ago I wrote about The Obsolete Church.  In that post I suggested that while the little c church (local congregations or communities of faith) remains vital the big C Church (denominations and other institutional expressions) have become obsolete.  That post generated more feedback in a variety of forums than any piece I wrote all summer. Apparently "obsolete" is not as clear of a word as I thought it was.  As a result, I will try to build on what I said in that piece by adding a new Read More …