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Congregational Studies

Over the last two decades the scholarly study of the dynamics of congregational life has developed into a separate academic discipline of study called Congregational Studies.  

This discipline has as its focus of study the life of local religious groups or congregations.  Persons who conduct this research come from different academic perspectives (sociology, history, theology, psychology) and use different tools (surveys, observation, interviews, demographics) but they all have in common the desire to better understand the life and dynamics of the lived reality of faith communities.

The foundational text guiding this discipline was the 1986 book The Handbook for Congregational Studies edited by Jack Carroll, Carl Dudley and Bill McKinney which is available for download on this site.  A sequel to the original handbook was recently published.  This work, Studying Congregations: A New Handbook forms the basis of much of the congregational studies work of the Hartford Institute.


Congregation: Stories and Structures
James F. Hopewell provides a definitive study of congregational life.  This link, located at religion-online.org, allows you to read this book in its entirety.

Leading Congregations, Discovering Congregational
By James P. Wind



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