Congregational Engagement Outcomes: Serving and Inviting

by Albert L. Winseman, D. Min.
Religion and Social Trends Editor

In last week's Tuesday Briefing, we introduced the Gallup Congregational Engagement Index, an analysis of a nationwide poll of 729 adult members of various religious congregations*. The results indicated that 26% of congregation members are engaged, 56% are not engaged, and 18% are actively disengaged.

This survey also linked engagement levels with four specific measurable outcomes: hours spent volunteering to serve and help others in the community, inviting others to participate in one's congregation, life satisfaction and financial giving. This week, we focus on results of the first two outcomes.

Respondents in the nationwide poll were asked how many hours per week they spend serving and helping others in the community:

  • Engaged congregation members spend a median of two hours per week serving and helping others
  • Those who are not engaged spend a median of one hour per week
  • Actively disengaged members spend a median of zero hours per week.

Because there are more than 78 million congregation members nationwide (according to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, 2000), one can estimate that more than 20 million engaged members spend more than 40 million hours per week volunteering. Increasing the number of engaged congregation members would boost this number even higher.

To measure the number of respondents who invite others to participate in their congregations, Gallup asked participants to respond, on a 1-to-5 scale with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree" to the statement, "In the last month, I have invited someone to participate in my congregation." Sixty-four percent (64%) of engaged members answered with a "5," only 24% of members who are not engaged and 5% of members who are actively disengaged did the same.

Again, assuming 78,672,708 congregation members nationally, engaged members nationwide invite approximately 13,091,139 new people to their congregations per month.

*Based on telephone interviews with 729 adult members of a church, synagogue, or other religious faith community, aged 18+, conducted October-November 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3.6%.

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