Our Calvin student team is wrapping up its summer work this week, and Calvin’s Media Relations folks have produced an excellent press release about KCCS, written primarily from the perspective of student team members.
The project is on schedule! As of this writing, CSR student Field Interviewers have completed 245 face-to-face interviews with Kent County religious leaders, as well as doing field research to winnow down an initial list of over 900 possible congregations to a current clean list of just over 760. Our four summer student research assistants have been a big help, too. Another 44 face-to-face interviews have been conducted by clergy liaisons, and 115 telephone interviews are complete, putting total response to date over 50%. Data collection will continue into the fall, with a smaller team of Calvin students cooperating with the clergy liaisons and telephone subcontractor.
Thanks to all our partners, and especially to the congregations themselves, for making KCCS work!
|CSR’s major summer project, the Kent County Congregations Study, made the front page of the Grand Rapids Press newspaper today. In scope, KCCS is one of the most ambitious local studies of congregations ever undertaken. Because the goal is to learn how to provide better future service provision to the needy, the study aims to reach as much of the complete county population of congregations as possible. The CSR’s team of thirteen student field interviewers has conducted over ninety face-to-face interviews with local clergy since June 21, aiming for more than 250 completed interviews by August 20. Another team of interviewers at RDV Corporation will seek an additional 120 interviews with primarily African-American and Latino congregations, while the Center for Marketing and Opinion Research in Akron, Ohio has been contracted to contact another 250-plus by telephone. Update: we have a nice PDF of the Press article for online viewing only; contact us or the Press if you are interested in a print copy.|
The Kent County Congregation Study (KCCS) team were all in one place today, enjoying lunch and preparing to interview clergy all over the county.
|Front Row (seated or kneeling):||Benjamin Moore, Rev. Lorenzo Miguel, Yolanda Ivens, Neil Carlson, Grace Miguel, Jessica Siekmeier, Zuri Suero.|
|Second Row:||Elizabeth Gonzalez, Paula Simoni, Joseph Pichardo, Dana Doll, Nate Medeiros-Ward, Stephanie Skaar, Uduak Thomas, Edwin Hernandez.|
|Third Row:||Rev. Fred Comer, Rev. Joe Jones, Lori Verspoor, Deborah Lemmen, Jordan Bruxvoort, Rev. Royce Evans, Todd LaForest, Rev. Dallas Lenear.|
|Not pictured:||Austin Graff, Dan Eizenga|
It's a wonderful group of people!
What has distinguished growing American congregations from their stagnant and dwindling cousins? Some tentative answers are found in a new report from Faith Communities Today: a growing, youthful demographic setting, a multiethnic constituency, a “vital,” contemporary worship style, and a purposeful organizational disposition to grow and change. Drums and “joyful” worship often went with growth; worship described as “reverent,” unfortunately, did not often accompany numeric growth in weekly attendance (see pages 9 and 10 of the report).
Whether these recent trends are worthy of emulation is a theological and social matter the current report does not address directly. But scholars and laypeople of all stripes may find evidence to inform their perspectives. The report, covering many faiths and denominations, is based on nationwide data collected in 2005 by the Calvin College Center for Social Research.
Volunteers are needed to visit rural areas this fall to help finish a congregational census of Kent County.
Sign up for training, then cover a part of the county in late September and early October. About ten pairs of volunteers can finish the job in under a week.
Training: Saturday, September 23, 9am - 12pm at Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus. Read more below to RSVP.
Drive all over a part of rural Kent County and document the churches you find.
Approaching the covered bridge at Fallasburg Park in northeast Kent County, October 2005.