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A Field Guide to Presbyterian Congregations:
Building Inside Connections

Worshipers connect with others in the congregation through group activities (such as church school, prayer and study groups, and fellowships or clubs), serving in leadership roles, and financial support. How do PC(USA) congregations nurture these activities?

  • Involving Worshipers

    In what other ways are worshipers involved in PC(USA) congregations? Overall, 64% of worshipers in PC(USA) congregations participate in small group activities substantially more than is typical across all faith groups (nationally only 44% are engaged in small group activities). Compared to the national averages, worshipers in PC(USA) congregations are more likely to take part in educational activities like Sunday school, church school, or Sabbath school (32% in PC(USA) congregations do); prayer, discussion, or Bible study groups (27%); and fellowships, clubs, or other social groups (41%). Among Presbyterian worshipers, as well as among all worshipers, the highest rates of involvement are for social activities.

    Q: Are you involved in any group activities here?


  • Involvement as Leaders

    How many worshipers serve in leadership roles in PC(USA) congregations? Presbyterians excel in this area, as well: 57% hold at least one leadership position in their congregation (such as governing board, committee, choir or usher, church school teacher, small group leader, etc.). Only 38% of worshipers across the U.S. serve as leaders in their congregations.

  • Involvement in Decision Making

    Do worshipers feel they are actively involved in making important decisions in their congregation? 68% of worshipers overall, and 82% in Presbyterian congregations, say they've been given the opportunity to be involved in congregational decision making. However, only a third of U.S. worshipers overall (38%) say they do so even occasionally. In Presbyterian congregations, in contrast, more than half (55%) take part in making important decisions -- either often or occasionally.

    Q: Which best describes your involvement in the making of important decision in this congregation?


  • Belonging Here

    Do worshipers in PC(USA) congregations feel like they belong? 86% report a strong sense of belonging to their congregation, which is somewhat greater than in the typical U.S. congregation. Overall, 49% in PC(USA) congregations say they have a strong sense of belonging that has been growing, and 37% say it is steady (28%) or declining (9%).

    Q: Do you have a strong sense of belonging to this congregation?


  • Making Friends

    Are worshipers developing friendships with others in PC(USA) congregations? About 75% of worshipers in PC(USA) congregations say some or all of their close friends attend the same congregation. This is somewhat higher than in the national picture where 67% of worshipers say they have some close friends in their congregation.

  • Giving

    Financial support connects people to the congregation and its mission. In PC(USA) congregations, 95% of worshipers make financial contributions to the congregation, including 16% who regularly give 10% or more of their net income to their congregation, and 38% who regularly give 5% to 9%. Nationally, 93% of worshipers make financial contributions, and 19% give 10% or more of their net income.

    Q: About how much do you give financially to this congregation?


  • Being a Team

    Do worshipers feel there is a connection between their pastor and worshipers in their congregation? Nearly all worshipers in PC(USA) congregations (85%) agree with the statement, "In general, there is a good match between our congregation and our minister, pastor, or priest." Across all worshipers in the U.S., a similar percentage agree with this statement.

  • Becoming a Member

    Overall, eight in ten worshipers in Presbyterian pews are members of their congregations. Another 2% are in the process of becoming members. That leaves 12% who regularly participate, but are not members. These results are similar to those for worshipers from all faith groups. The remaining worshipers are visitors (2%) or people who are not members and attend only occasionally (4%).

  • Experiencing Conflict

    How common is conflict in worshiping communities? Three-quarters of worshipers in PC(USA) churches report no conflict (43%) or minor conflict (32%) in the previous two years. Yet, 12% say their church experienced major conflict in that period. (The remaining 13% said they didn't know.) These results are about the same as in the typical congregation (55% report no conflict and 22% report minor conflict).




Go to: Field Guide to Presbyterian Congregations: Outside Connections

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Copyright 2002 Research Services. All rights reserved.

Last modified July 12, 2002 by U.S. Congregations Home Page Manager