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U.S. Congregational Life Survey -- Measuring Congregational Vitality

The study explores congregational life in four areas:

  • Spiritual Connections -- worshipers' faith and spirituality
  • Inside Connections -- worshipers involvement in and connections to the congregation
  • Outside Connections -- worshipers' involvement in the community
  • Identity Connections -- who worshipers are and their views of the future of the congregation
Spiritual Connections are the ways congregations help people grow in their faith through worship services and other religious activities. Participation in private devotional activities, growth in faith, and attendees' experiences during worship services in their congregations are all part of Spiritual Connections.

Inside Connections are the ways worshipers connect with the congregation. Participation in small group activities of the congregation (church school, prayer or Bible study groups, and fellowships or social groups), having friends in the congregation, and a sense of belonging to the congregation all contribute to Inside Connections.

Outside Connections reflect the extent to which worshipers reach out to and serve the community. Involvement in outreach and evangelism activities of the congregation, inviting others to the congregation, and participation in community service activities through other organizations are part of Outside Connections that provide essential "social capital" for improving the quality of life in the community.

Identity Connections describe who the congregation's worshipers are (in terms of age, gender, education, marital status, and so on), what they value in the congregation, and how they see the congregation's future.

Congregations participating in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey receive a report summarizing their worshipers' responses in these four dimensions of congregational vitality. Reports show how their congregation measures up on each of the vitality measures and compares the responses of their worshipers to those of the national average based on the responses of worship attendees in congregations across America.

Highlights of Congregational Strengths in each of these area are also available on line.


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Last modified May 24, 2002 by U.S. Congregations Home Page Manager