U.S. Congregational Life Survey, Wave 2, 2008/2009, Random Sample Leader Survey

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Congregations/Other Organizations > US Congregational Life Survey > 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 the Random Sample Leader Survey for congregations participating in Wave 2 of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. (U.S. Congregational Life Survey Wave 2 Random Sample Attender data, Congregational Profile data, and Associate Leader data will be provided in separate data files.)
Data File
Cases: 692
Variables: 446
Weight Variable: NWT
Data Collection
Date Collected: Fall 2008 and Spring 2009
Original Survey (Instrument)
USCLS Wave 2 Leader Survey
Funded By
The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
Louisville Institute
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Collection Procedures
Self-administered surveys
Sampling Procedures
The second sample (Wave 2) was identified and recruited by Harris Interactive. Of 1,330 congregations nominated and verified in the Wave 2 sample, 201 agreed to participate (15% of congregations) and 148 returned completed worshiper surveys (73% of those that agreed). Worshipers in these congregations completed 38,468 surveys. Congregations in the national random sample that participated in 2001 (Wave 1) were also invited by Harris Interactive to take part in Wave 2. In 2008, Harris Interactive verified and located 411 of the 434 congregations that participated in Wave 1. Of these, 145 agreed to participate in Wave 2 (35% of congregations), and 108 returned completed surveys from their worshipers (74% of those that agreed). These congregations returned 26,206 completed attender surveys.

An 8-page Leader Survey to be completed by the principal leader was included in the package sent out to churches participating in Wave 2. The package also included a separate business-reply envelope for leaders to mail back the survey to maintain their confidentiality. Key leaders could also complete the survey online. In addition, Harris Interactive made several attempts by mail and by telephone to contact the principal leader in each congregation that was nominated for the project but declined to participate in the worshiper portion of the study. After several reminders, incentives were offered to remaining non-respondents to encourage participation.

The Leader Survey in Wave 1 was funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., managed by Dr. Jackson Carroll (Pulpit and Pew, Duke University), and conducted by telephone by NORC. As in Wave 2, efforts were made by NORC to obtain completed leader surveys from congregations that chose not to participate in the in-worship survey. Results are summarized in God's Potters: Pastoral Leadership and the Shaping of Congregations.

Of the 1,741 congregations nominated and contacted in Wave 2, a total of 692 Leader Surveys were completed (39%).

In Wave 1 and Wave 2, 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. Denominations participating in this oversampling procedure in Wave 1 and Wave 2 were Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 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).
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
Due to sampling procedures, large congregations were more likely to be identified. To compensate for this size bias, data analyses should be weighted by size. The file contains a weighting variable (NWT) constructed through the following steps:
STEP 1. Calculate simple weight (WT)
STEP 2. Calculate the sum.
STEP 3.Take the number from SUM above (currently 3.66277) and use in formula below.
COMPUTE NWT=(WT/3.66277) * 692. [692 is number of cases]
Merging Datasets
The Random Sample Leader data can be linked to the Random Sample Attender data or Profile data by the CONGREGA variable.
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