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 …

Music in Worship

David Neff, former editor in chief of Christianity Today and church music director for nearly three decades, recently suggested that music in worship should be intentionally eclectic - utilizing a variety of styles and sources, and focused on enabling worship rather than artistic excellence (or a performance mentality). So What? Music plays an important role in Christian worship.  When a given congregation experiences only a very narrow range of music styles or theological Read More …

Why Are You Still in Church?

Much is being written about why people are leaving church, especially those in younger generations.  Emily Case, Associate Pastor at Kennesaw United Methodist Church in Kennesaw, GA, recently wrote about why she has chosen to stay: Why do I stay? Because I believe that just like I am broken, the church is broken, that we all are broken. But, I believe that God can often work best through brokeness. Why do I stay? Because I have seen lives changed because someone held their hand while they Read More …

Why America Is and Isn’t Unusually Religious

Tobin Grant, associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, recently wrote an article for Christianity Today about the unique nature of American religiosity.  In that piece, he noted that the United States continues to be quite religious while most other developed countries have become increasingly secular.  Upon deeper review, ongoing American religiosity is not an aberration but a logical outcome resulting from our unusually high level of economic inequality.  The Read More …

Where Do New Members Come From?

Deborah Bruce and Joelle Anderson recently co-authored an article exploring research about the makeup of new church members.  More specifically, they considered who is joining Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregations.  They report that "in the typical PC(USA) congregation about three in ten worshipers are new people who began attending there in the past five years."  These newcomers can be grouped into four categories: First-timers with no church background.  Only 8% of new people in Read More …