Church and Synagogue Affiliation: Theory, Research, and Practice

By Amy L. Sales; Gary A. Tobin | Go to book overview

PART ONE
Defining the Issues

The chapters in Part One focus on the conceptual and definitional issues that underlie any discussion of congregational affiliation. Each of the constructs related to affiliation theory, research, and practice is complex and multiform. Our language for discussing them is equally rich and diverse. We need, therefore, to clarify common terms so that affiliation can be discussed across denominations and academic disciplines with mutual understanding and precision. Part One addresses the need for a clarification of affiliation-related constructs.

David A. Roozen first presents a framework for defining congregational affiliation. The framework is grounded in the assertion that "individuals affiliate with congregations which are affiliated with denominations; and that all three shape and are shaped by their social context." Roozen arrays these various levels of interacting factors in a matrix, graphically demonstrating the complexity of affiliation. He shows the need for more elaborated models for generating research questions and designing strategies for congregational growth.

Roozen suggests that the most critical questions--and those least emphasized in past research--involve the interaction between these various factors. Thus, for example, affiliation can be seen as a bridge between individual motivations, predispositions, and loyalties and the abilities of a congregation to satisfy or build upon these. Rather than devise research and strategy from the point of view of the individual or from the perspective of the congregation, key questions rest on the interrelationship between the two. Affiliation does not result from what the congregation does or what it is, but from how its actions and identity relate to the needs, values, and beliefs of the individual.

In the second chapter, Loren B. Mead offers a complex definition of congregational growth that encourages us to think about this concept in ways that transcend mere numbers on the membership rolls. Mead recog-

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