The National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP) examines congregations’ theological, cultural, and practical orientations toward money and generates a deeper understanding of how congregations receive, manage, and spend their financial resources. While much social science research has assessed religious giving, the vast majority of this literature focusses on the individual religious giver—explaining motives and mechanisms for giving—rather than the most common recipient of this giving, the congregation. Moreover, the giving-centric nature of the research on congregational finances underexplores issues of non-giving financial matters, such as the managing and spending of money. The NSCEP provides a 360-degree assessment of the state of congregational finances in the U.S. by focusing on the receiving, managing, and spending of money, as well as how congregations engage economic issues more broadly, such as consumerism and materialism.
The NSCEP employs both quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the economic practices of congregations. Using a nationally representative survey, interviews with clergy and laity, lay focus groups, and onsite observations at select congregations, the NSCEP explores how faith and money intersect in U.S. congregations. The NSCEP is the resource for advancing research among scholars of religious philanthropy and congregational finances, while serving as a reliable source of empirical data for religious leaders to enhance their stewardship programming, increase their confidence in engaging these financial topics, and raising awareness of the centrality of these economic issues for the future of American religious life.
To learn more details about this project or to work with Brad R. Fulton, please contact him below.