U.S. Congregational Life Survey, Wave 2, 2008/2009, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Attender Survey

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Presbyterian > Summary


Over 500,000 worshipers in more than 5,000 congregations across America participated in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey (Wave 1 and Wave 2)—making it the largest survey of worshipers in America ever conducted. Three types of surveys were completed in each participating congregation: (a) an attender survey completed by all worshipers age 15 and older who attended worship services during the weekend the survey was given; (b) a congregational profile describing the congregation’s facilities, staff, programs, and worship services completed by one person in the congregation; and (c) a leader survey completed by the pastor, priest, minister, rabbi, or other principal leader. Together the information collected provides a unique three-dimensional look at religious life in America. (From Appendix 1, U.S. Congregational Life Survey Methodology, A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations, Second Edition.)

This data file contains data for a random sample of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Attenders participating in Wave 2 of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. (U.S. Congregational Life Survey Wave 2 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Congregational Profile data, PC(USA) Leader data, and PC(USA) Associate Leader data will be provided in separate data files.)

Data File
Cases: 40,844
Variables: 157
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: Fall 2008 and Spring 2009
Original Survey (Instrument)
USCLS Attender Survey, Wave 2
Funded By
The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
The Louisville Institute
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Collection Procedures
Self-administered surveys
Sampling Procedures
The second sample (Wave 2) was drawn from a stratified random sample of all Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations. The strata were church size (as measured by membership), racial-ethnic composition of membership, and region. Of the 1,005 congregations identified and recruited by mail, 290 congregations returned 22,376 completed worshiper surveys. Some Presbyterian congregations participated in Wave 1 and again, in Wave 2. There were 212 repeating congregations, and these returned 17,259 worshiper surveys. Another 17 congregations were sampled in both Wave 1 and Wave 2, and these congregations returned 1,209 surveys.

In Wave 1 and Wave 2, other denominations were also invited and encouraged to draw a random sample of their congregations. Denominational samples were large enough so that the results are representative of worshipers and congregations in each denomination. This allows denominations to compare their “typical” congregation and worshiper to congregations and worshipers in other denominations. Along with the PC(USA), other denominations participating in this oversampling procedure in Wave 1 and Wave 2 were Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Seventh-day Adventist Church, United Methodist Church (UMC), and United Church of Christ (UCC). In Wave 2, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) also participated by surveying a national random sample of their denomination’s congregations. (From Appendix 1, U.S. Congregational Life Survey Methodology, A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations, Second Edition).

Five versions of the attender survey were used: Standard (for all non-Catholic congregations) in English (Form A), Standard in Spanish (Form A-S), Standard in Korean (Form A-K), Catholic in English (Form B), Catholic in Spanish (Form B-S). The major difference between the Catholic and Standard versions is the substitution of “Mass” for “worship service” and “priest” for “pastor.” All Catholic parishes in the Random Sample received Catholic forms. The Standard survey was offered in Korean because of the prevalence of Korean congregations within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In Wave 2, every PC(USA) congregation received the Standard version (A or B) for approximately 85 percent of the attender forms. The remaining 15 percent of forms were distributed among nine other versions—each with the same first three pages as the Standard version (Form A), but with a different back page. These different forms were topical in nature (e.g., giving, spirituality and health, sharing faith). So, for example, in a congregation with 100 people, 85 Form A surveys were distributed, and one or more of each of nine other versions of the survey were distributed. Every congregation did not necessarily get every one of the nine variations—for example, congregations with fewer than 50 total forms would not have received all of the nine different variations. So some small congregations might have gotten forms D through G for their 15 percent and another congregation might have gotten forms H through M and so on. The PIs determined the number of each of these nine versions to send to each congregation so that the overall number of responses for each version would be balanced. This procedure ensured that the PIs received enough completed forms of each of the nine different versions to be able to treat them as a random sample of worshipers. In addition, each oversample used a similar procedure to distribute a variety of back page forms to worshipers in that sample. Data from these back page forms are not being archived at this time, but the first three pages of data from these back page forms are included in the PC(USA) Attender data being provided. This explanation is included so that those who use the data will understand why some worshipers lack data for items Q47 to Q60 that appeared on the back page of the Standard version of the survey.
Principal Investigators
Cynthia Woolever, Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), co-principal investigator

Deborah Bruce, Associate Research Manager, Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), co-principal investigator

Joelle Kopacz, Research Assistant, Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Ida Smith-Williams, Associate for Information, Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Related Publications
A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why. Second Edition. 2010. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why. 2002. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

Beyond the Ordinary: 10 Strengths of U.S. Congregations. 2004. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

Places of Promise: Finding Strength in Your Congregation’s Location. 2008. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

Leadership That Fits Your Church: What Kind of Pastor for What Kind of Congregation. 2012. Cynthia Woolever and
Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

Other reports are listed at: http://www.USCongregations.org
Merging Datasets
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Attender data can be linked to the PC(USA) Congregational Profile data and the PC(USA) Leader data by the CONGREGA variable.

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