Using data from the Kent County Congregations Study, CSR staff will showcase emerging tools and methods for visual data analysis.
Please join us:
Thursday April 8, 2010|
3:30 p.m., Meeter Center Lecture Hall
The Center for Social Research is pleased to announce that, as of November 5, 2009, we have completed our comprehensive church canvassing project! The student research assistants estimate that they covered over 124 tracts, and collected data documenting congregational movements and new congregations in Kent County. In total, 24 new congregations were discovered.
Even though there is a feeling of finality to this phase of the project, in reality it has only just begun. We now have a great deal of data to add to the previously collected data from the Kent County Congregational Survey of 2006 that was compiled into the impressive report, Gatherings of Hope. These data will also be used to make a comprehensive and up-to-date directory of Kent County congregations.
By visiting each congregation in Kent County, student researchers were able to take pictures of every building and record any changes to leadership, contact information, membership, and other relevant information.
Final analysis has begun for 2009 Clergy and Public Affairs Survey concerning political beliefs and clergy practices from ten denominations. This year's survey continues a series of post-presidential election surveys conducted since 1980 for the Southern Baptist Convention and since 1988 for other denominations. Answers to frequently asked questions about the survey and a list of denominations can be found here.
CSR student Research Assistants were an integral part of the data collection process, stuffing thousands of envelopes inviting clergy to participate in either online or printable versions of the survey. Research Assistants also entered over 1,500 paper surveys to add to the more than 1,200 online surveys submitted.
Comparative demographic information from 2001 and 2009 post-election surveys (excluding PCUSA data for early analysis) shows that gender, ethnicity, and community size reported by participants have not changed significantly since 2001, but age of respondents has increased. Nearly 61 percent of respondents in 2001 fell into the category of 34 to 54 years of age. In 2009, only 48 percent fell into this category, and the category of 55 and older experienced a growth of 12 percent, making nearly 46 percent of respondents fall into this category.
In the following table, we see that the clergy seem to be leaning toward a theologically orthodox viewpoint. In 2009, clergy reported consistently higher percentages of agreement on the following measures of theological conservatism. However, clergy agreeing with the statement concerning Christ’s physical second coming have decreased by 1 percent. Perhaps the most interesting change is the increase from 2001 to 2009 in both Evangelical and Mainline clergy in total agreement with the statement “Adam and Eve were real people” by 8.2% and 12.6% respectively. Evangelical denominations consist of the Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists, the Christian Reformed Church, the Lutheran Missouri Synod, and the Mennonites. Mainline denominations consist of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, and the Reformed Church of America.
2013 UPDATE: the report on the 2012 CRC Survey is available.
CSR has just released our report on the 2007-2008 "CRC 150th Anniversary Survey," titled Spiritual and Social Trends and Patterns in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The report was co-authored with our esteemed "director emeritus" Rodger Rice. We all benefitted from tremendous support and cooperation from dozens of churches and the denominational leadership of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
The report's main sections cover over-time trends from CRC surveys dating back to 1987; measures and explanations of congregational health; factors related to generous, stewardship-oriented giving to the church; and an analysis of respondents' comments.
The following resources are available:
Here's a sample of the report's analysis, from Figure 13 on page 22 of the report. It shows the distribution of congregational health measures for churches with at least 20 respondents, sorted from healthiest to least healthy. Each colored square is a particular respondent's score on a highly reliable scale rating the congregation's health on 24 items representing 11 areas. The chart shows that there is substantial internal variation within churches, no matter how healthy they are--even the church with the healthiest score has some relatively disappointed congregants, and even the least healthy church has some fairly sanguine members.
Image created in Tableau 5.0.
One of our talented employees, Nathan Mosurinjohn, comments on the GIS niche he specializes in at the CSR:
“GIS is short for Geographic Information Systems, which is used to both analyze spatial data and to create maps. The GIS program we use at the CSR is fully customizable, so the possibilities for its use are endless. Some examples of ways this technology can be used include anything from site selection for business branches to hydrological studies to 3D fly-throughs of mountain ranges.
One of the main ways we are using GIS this summer is to coordinate our canvassing efforts for the Kent County Congregations Study. In addition to making an atlas of maps that the canvassers use for navigating, we have used GIS to estimate the time it will take to canvass each area and the amount of milage each area contains. We have also created a randomized set of points throughout the county to measure some of the general social and physical characteristics of the areas we are canvassing.
Once a team returns from a canvassing trip with their collected data, we use GIS to analyze what we have learned. With this technology we can chart where congregations are moving, where new congregations are forming, and where they are shutting down. We can also begin to see what the location of congregations means; for example, demographic changes in the city may be reflected in church movement and attendance. Movement of congregations can also affect how well services for young people are distributed among at-risk youth, a topic that our corresponding Youth Services Landscape Survey explores in more depth.
These are just a few of the ways that we are using GIS to aid in the implementation of our research endeavors, but as you can see, it is also a very transferable tool that can be used for a variety of purposes.”