The Congregation in Community

Course #PCS103 Spring, 2001

Prof. Katie Day

Office Hours: 9:30-11 a.m.

Office: Hagan 210 Mondays

Ext. 6345

Purpose of course:

The purpose of this course is to explore the dynamics between a congregation and the community which forms its most immediate context by first understanding each as organic social systems. Working with case study congregations, students will learn research tools representing both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Both congregation and community will be analyzed through the lenses of the descriptive social sciences as well as theological paradigms. How the congregation interfaces with its context will finally be analyzed and the implications for outreach examined.


Class participation (including attendance and preparation) = 25%

Short paper (5-8 pp.) in which a congregation is analyzed using Niebuhr's typology = 25%

Participation in case study team, including research and final presentation = 50%



Christ and Culture H. Richard Niebuhr (New York: Harper & Row), 1951

Congregation & Community Nancy Tatom Ammerman (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers), 1997.

Studying Congregations Ammerman, Carroll, Dudley and McKinney (Nashville, TN: Abingdon), 1998.

Congregations in Conflict: Cultural Models of Local Religious Life Penny Edgell Becker (Cambridge University Press), 1999.

(Strongly recommended):

Activism That Makes Sense Gregory F. A. Pierce (Chicago: ACTA Publications, 1984)

American Congregations James P. Wind and James W. Lewis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1994.

Basic Steps Toward Community Ministry Carl Dudley (Washington: Alban Institute, 1991)

Church and Denominational Growth David Roozen, C. Kirk Hadaway (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993).

Congregation James F. Hopewell (Phila: Fortress), 1987.

Money Matters Dean R. Hoge, Charles Zech, Patrick McNamara, Michael J. Donahue (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox), 1996.

The Churching of America 1776-1990 Roger Finke and Rodney Stark (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers), 1994

Varieties of Religious Presence: Mission in Public Life David Roozen, Wm. McKinney, Jackson Carroll, eds. (New York: Pilgrim Press), 1984.


The class will meet Tuesday afternoons from 2:15-5:15 p.m. in Library A. There will be a lecture followed by discussion in most sessions.

The class will be divided into two research teams, each of which will study a local congregation. The scheduling of on-site research will be negotiated between the team and the churches. The team will make a 2 1/2 hour presentation at the end of the semester; two copies of the report are due at that time. (One will be filed in the library, the other will go to the church.)

Course Schedule

[Introduction to Congregational Studies]

2/6 Orientation to course

*Approaches to the study of congregations

*Introduction to case studies

Reading: Studying Congregations, Introduction, Chap. 1


[Researching the Congregation]

2/13 Change and conflict in church and community

Reading: Congregation & Community , Chapters. 1, 8 & 9 (others assigned for oral reports)

(Recommended): Activism that Makes Sense, Chapters. 6 & 7

2/20 The sociological profile of the congregation: Digging up descriptive data

Reading: Studying Congregations, Chapter 7

2/27 I. Understanding the culture of the congregation: Oral history

*New York Baptist: a case study

Reading: Studying Congregations, pp 40-46, 94-97

Congregation, chaps. 1-5

(Recommended): Bass in American Congregations

2/27 II. Understanding the culture of the congregation: Ethnographic research

Reading : Congregation, chap. 6-10

Studying Congregations, Chapter 3

(Recommended): Gilkey & Franklin in American Congregations

Congregational ethnographies by Heilman, Kostarelos, Williams, Washington, Freedman (see bibliography)

3/6 I. Organizational processes of congregational functioning

Reading: Studying Congregations, Chapter 4 & 5

3/6 II. The individual in the congregation: patterns of affiliation

Reading: Church and Denominational Growth

1) "From Church Tradition to Consumer Choice: The Gallup Surveys of the Unchurched American"

2) "Baby boomers and the Return to the Churches"

3) "Churched and Unchurched Black Americans"


[Researching the Community Context]

3/27 Demographics of the community context: boundaries and change

Reading: Studying Congregations, pp. 47-77, 213-217

"Demographics of Religious Participation" (JSSR 28:1 pp. 45-58)

4/3 Forces shaping the community: Economic, political, cultural, historic

Reading: Basic Steps, pp. 1-41



[Analyzing the Congregation-Context Interface]

4/10 The interaction of Christ and culture: Niebuhr's typology
Analysis of the relationship between congregation and community: the Hartford model


Christ and Culture

(Recommended): Marty in American Congregations Varieties, chaps. 1, 2 & 5


4/17 Leadership, culture, and the construction of outreach

Reading: Studying Congregations, Chapter 6

(Recommended): Dolan in American Congregations

4/24 Strategies for outreach and evangelism

Reading: "Congregation Religious Styles and Orientations to Society: Exploring our Linear Assumptions", Alan K. Mock, RRR, 34/1 (Sept. 1992)

"Social Action, Evangelism, and Ecumenism: The Impact of Community, Theological, and Church Structural Variables," Conrad Kanagy, RRR, 34/1 (Sept. 1992)

5/1 Presentation: Group A

5/8 Presentation: Group B