Originally published in 1992.
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Drawing on the 1998 National Congregations Study--the first systematic study of its kind--as well as a broad range of quantitative, qualitative, and historical evidence, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the most significant form of collective religious expression in American society: local congregations. Among its more surprising findings, Congregations in America reveals that, despite the media focus on the political and social activities of religious groups, the arts are actually far more central to the workings of congregations. Here we see how, far from emphasizing the pursuit of charity or justice through social services or politics, congregations mainly traffic in ritual, knowledge, and beauty through the cultural activities of worship, religious education, and the arts.
Along with clarifying--and debunking--arguments on both sides of the debate over faith-based initiatives, the information presented here comprises a unique and invaluable resource, answering previously unanswerable questions about the size, nature, make-up, finances, activities, and proclivities of these organizations at the very center of American life.
1. What Do Congregations Do?
2. Members, Money, and Leaders
3. Social Services
4. Civic Engagement and Politics
6. The Arts
7. Culture in Congregations, Congregations in Culture
8. Beyond Congregations
Appendix A: National Congregations Study Methodology
Appendix B: Selected Summary Statistics from the National Congregations Study