Congregations in the Midst of Change: An Interview with Nancy Ammerman

Congregations in the Midst of Change: An Interview with Nancy Ammerman. Christian Century 114(2):48-51, January 15, 1997.

The Christian Century interviews sociologist Nancy Ammerman, author of Congregation and Community (Rutgers University Press, 1995), on her study’s findings and the factors shaping congregations today uncovered in the Congregations in Changing Communities project. Her research shows that today’s congregation faces many of the same social issues as did the church in the early 20th century, though some issues such as gay and lesbian communities have only recently surfaced. She believes that people today continue to invest their lives in voluntary organizations, though these often represent new forums and avenues of personal interchange. She thinks pastors today should learn to be good networkers rather than relying on pre-established programs in leading churches. Ammerman feels that churches must face rather than avoid internal conflict if they are to confront successfully the changes their communities present them. As congregations—whether evangelical or liberal—learn to adapt to change, they will continue to serve as important institutions in the lives of individuals and communities.