Changes in American churches according to the National Congregations Study

Data from Wave III of the nationally representative National Congregations Study reveals a number of changes across American churches:

[M]ore congregations:

– Open their doors to gays and lesbians in active membership and in leadership.
– Show racial and ethnic diversity in the pews.
– Encourage hand-waving, amen-shouting, and dancing-in-the-aisles during worship.
– Disconnect from denominational ties, doctrines, and rules that might slow or block change…

Duke University sociology professor Mark Chaves, who directed the study, said he was “surprised” by how much the acceptance of gays and lesbians has risen since 2006, the first time the study asked about gay involvement in religious congregational life…

In 2012, 11 percent of congregations had an all-white membership, down from 20 percent in 1998. About a third of congregations have some Hispanics and nearly a quarter have some Asians. Behind the change, Chaves said, are factors such as upward mobility by blacks, increasing rates of interracial marriage, and immigration…

More people now attend congregations where drums are played during the main service — up to 46 percent in 2012 from 25 percent in 1998. Every tradition from Catholic to Protestant to non-Christian pumped up the beat by 7 to 20 percentage points or more.

Find more data here. This seems like the continuation of some trends that were present in the second wave.

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