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Five hopeful signs for U.S. congregations

Five hopeful signs for U.S. congregations

David Briggs writes in the Association of Religious Data Archives (ARDA) that times have been tough for the religious affiliated, but that there are five hopeful signs for U.S. congregations. He lists detailed descriptions for all of the five, but I’ve included only one:

More caring ministries

Climbing the academic ladder

Keeping up with the technological times

More diverse leadership: You just have to look around in many churches to notice a gender imbalance. Still, survey researchers say the consistent finding that six in 10 worshipers are women remains one of their most asked-about results. What is growing, however, is the diversity of leadership in mainline Protestant churches, where 28 percent of pastors are women, up from 20 percent in 2001. New research using survey data also finds female pastors are in general more satisfied in their ministry than male pastors and are strong in welcoming new people. Almost two in five pastors of growing churches are women.

Happy people in the pews


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Bill Dilworth

Have most church-goers always been women in America? I know that in some cultures – even those where non-attendance at church counts as a mortal sin – men are only reluctant or occasional attendees; I’ve been in Greek parishes where men hung out at the back, and most spent Divine Liturgy on the front steps. And I’ve read that the feminization of Victorian depictions of Jesus owe something to an attempt to appeal to the large numbers of women in church. But is the lack of gender diversity in the pews simply the status quo for US congregations?

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