Amy L. Sales and Gary A. Tobin
Recently, in casual conversation, we asked a Jewish coworker if she belonged to a synagogue. She admitted that she did not. But she blushed and clearly looked uncomfortable, as if she had the feeling that she ought to belong to one. "It's all right," we found ourselves reassuring her. "You're not that different from most American Jews."
This book is about church and synagogue affiliation in the United States today. The reports of research and practice presented in these pages explore the dynamics of congregational affiliation: the motivations that impel people to join a congregation, drop out, or remain unaffiliated; the practices within churches and synagogues that attract or repel membership; and the ways in which contextual religious, social, and cultural factors influence patterns of congregational affiliation. The book is principally concerned with churches and synagogues in the more liberal denominations of Christianity and Judaism, those where the greatest membership losses have been occurring.
Understanding congregational affiliation seems a particularly urgent task in contemporary America. Congregations play a significant role in our society; at the same time, membership in many denominations is on the decline, and churches and synagogues are facing ominous challenges.