Congregational Life and Leadership in our Urban Area
The Urban Church Leadership Center (UCLC) was created because of in-depth research and analysis of community need. Today, the value for research continues as the UCLC staff and local church leaders work together to consider the new reality of the urban church.
This Greater Grand Rapids Study of Congregations traces its origins to a previous study of Kent County congregations that was conducted a decade ago under a partnership between the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation and the Calvin College Center for Social Research (CSR). The findings of that study, which were published under the title of Gatherings of Hope: How Religious Congregations Contribute to the Quality of Life in Kent County, documented the many contributions congregations make to the lives of the residents of Kent County. That study informed the subsequent launch of a major new line of work at the Foundation that took its name from the title of the report.
The current report, which again teams up Foundation and CSR staff, focuses exclusively on the greater Grand Rapids geographic area—Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming. The reason for this is simple: This urban area defines the boundaries of the Gatherings of Hope initiative, whose mission of serving urban pastors and churches provided the main impetus for the present study. The process of crafting the survey questionnaire that forms the backbone of this report was guided mainly by the issues and concerns that define the day-to-day work of the various programs that form part of the Gatherings of Hope initiative, particularly the recently launched Urban Church Leadership Center. The survey findings, in turn, will help shape the future leadership training opportunities that the Center provides to urban church leaders and their congregations. In addition to the survey, this report incorporates the findings of an extensive census of congregations in the study area.
Appendix 3: contains the topline results for every question in the survey, which are broken down by religious tradition, race or ethnicity, and race or ethnicity within religious traditions. This allows readers to access the rich survey data generated by this study.