National Congregations Study, Cumulative Dataset (1998 and 2006-2007)

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The newly released National Congregations Study, Cumulative Dataset (1998, 2006-2007, and 2012) is now available at the ARDA!

The National Congregations Study (NCS) dataset "fills a void in the sociological study of congregations by providing, for the first time, data that can be used to draw a nationally aggregate picture of congregations" (Chaves et al. 1999, p.460). Thanks to innovations in sampling techniques, the NCS data is the first nationally representative sample of American congregations. In 2006-07, a panel component was added to the NCS. In addition to the new cross-section of congregations generated in conjunction with the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS), a stratified random sample was drawn from congregations who participated in the 1998 NCS. The 2006-07 NCS sample, then, includes a subset of cases that were also interviewed in 1998. A full codebook, prepared by the primary investigator, is available for download here. The codebook contains the original questionnaire, as well as detailed information on survey methodology, weights, coding, and more.

The NCS Panel Dataset is also available from the ARDA.

Data File
Cases: 2,740
Variables: 636
Weight Variable: W1, W2, W3, W4, W5, W6, W7, W8
In general, analysts will weight the data by W2 when examining the data from the average congregation‘s perspective and by W3 when examining the data from the average attendee‘s perspective. For more information on weights, see the full codebook.
Data Collection
Date Collected: 1998, 2006-2007
Funded By
The National Congregations Study (NCS) was made possible by major grants from The Lilly Endowment, Inc. The 1998 NCS also was supported by grants from Smith Richardson Foundation, Inc., the Louisville Institute, the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund of The Aspen Institute, and Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. The 2006-07 NCS also was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Louisville Institute.
Collection Procedures
The NCS data were collected by the same interviewers who collected data from GSS respondents. The GSS is a face-to-face interview conducted by experienced and well-trained interviewers; in both 1998 and 2006, interviewers were instructed to glean from respondents as much locational information about their congregations as possible.

NCS Wave I

Once the congregational sample was generated, nominated congregations were located, and the NCS gathered congregational data using a 45-60 minute interview with one key informant--a minister, priest, rabbi, or other staff person or leader--from each nominated congregation. Three-quarters of NCS interviews were with clergy, 83 percent were with staff of some sort, and the remaining 17 percent were with non-staff congregational leaders. Every effort was made to conduct these interviews by telephone, but we followed-up with face-to-face visits if telephone contact was difficult. Ninety-two percent of the interviews were completed by phone. The NCS-I response rate was 80 percent. Complete data were collected from 1,234 congregations.

NCS Wave II

As in 1998, data were gathered via a 45-60 minute interview with one key informant, usually a clergyperson, from each congregation. Seventy-eight percent of NCS interviews were with clergy, 86 percent were with staff of some sort, and the remaining 14 percent were with non-staff congregational leaders. We attempted to conduct these interviews by telephone, but we visited congregations and conducted in-person interviews if necessary. Our efforts to persuade congregations to participate were greatly helped by endorsements from 19 individuals in 11 denominations. The NCS-II response rate was 78 percent. Complete data were collected from 1,506 congregations.

For more information, see the full codebook.
Sampling Procedures
The NCS was conducted in conjunction with the General Social Survey (GSS)--an in-person interview with a representative sample of noninstitutionalized English- or Spanish-speaking adults in the United States, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In 1998 and 2006, the GSS asked respondents who said they attend religious services at least once a year to report the name and location of their religious congregation. The congregations named by these respondents constitute the 1998 and 2006-07 NCS congregational samples. In 2006-07, a panel component was added to the NCS. In addition to the new cross-section of congregations generated in conjunction with the 2006 GSS, a stratified random sample was drawn from congregations that participated in the 1998 NCS. The 2006-07 NCS sample, then, includes a subset of cases that were also interviewed in 1998.
Principal Investigators
Mark Chaves
Related Publications
Chaves, Mark, Mary Ellen Konieczny, Kraig Beyerlein, and Emily Barman. 1999. "The National Congregations Study: Background, Methods, and Selected Results." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 38(4): 458-476.

Chaves, Mark. 2004. Congregations in America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Chaves, Mark and Shawna L. Anderson. 2008. "Continuity and Change in American Congregations: Introducing the Second Wave of the National Congregations Study." Sociology of Religion 69:415-440.
Citation
Manuscripts using this data file or codebook should contain the following citation:

Chaves, Mark and Shawna Anderson. 2008. National Congregations Study. Cumulative data file and codebook. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University, Department of Sociology.