After two years of work, a team of researchers at Missouri State University and Drury University recently released a report titled “Springfield Area Congregations Study: Profile and Community Engagement” that explored the dimensions and community impact of congregations in Greene and Christian counties.
The study focuses on congregations as part of the nonprofit sector and their engagement in social services, volunteer activity and other forms of civic activity.
A total of 176 congregations completed the study’s survey. Among the study’s key findings were:
- Greene County has a higher density of congregations compared to other similarly sized counties nationwide
- 16 percent of congregational leaders are women and 7 percent are members of a racial minority
- 91 percent of congregations have at least one organized group for members such as Bible studies and social groups
- 88 percent of congregations sponsor social service programs that serve the broader community
- 82 percent of congregations provide volunteers for schools, social service and other community agencies
- 77 percent of congregations have leaders who are involved in community activities
- 90 percent of congregations collaborate with other congregations or community groups
- Congregation size has the most notable effect on community engagement
The report also included a comprehensive list of 549 congregations. It was a collaborative effort among four researchers: Dr. Catherine Hoegeman, Missouri State assistant professor of sociology; Dan Prater, executive director of the Drury University Center for Nonprofit Leadership; Christina Ryder, Missouri State sociology instructor; and Matthew Gallion, Missouri State alumnus and CaseWorthy Inc. client support specialist.