For those interested in trends in American religion:

Downward trend arrowA fairly recent report issued by the research coalition Faith Communities Today is called "A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000-2010," and it contains much worthwhile material. From the executive summary:

Conducted in 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2010, the FACT series shows that the decade brought:

  • A continued increase in innovative, adaptive worship
  • A surprisingly rapid adoption of electronic technologies
  • A dramatic increase in racial/ethnic congregations, many for immigrant groups
  • A general increase in the breadth of both member-oriented and mission-oriented programs

It also gave witness to:

  • An increase in connection across faith traditions
  • A twist in the historical pattern of religious involvement in support of the electoral process

But the decade also saw:

  • A steep drop in financial health
  • Continuing high levels of conflict
  • Aging memberships

The net, overall result:

  • Fewer persons in the pews
  • Decreasing spiritual vitality

This is sobering, but boards and other leaders of theological schools need to understand the religious landscape if they are to be effective. This report and many others from Faith Communities Today are available on the research group's website.

 

For those interested in endowments and major giving:

Upward trend arrowThe Council for Aid to Education recently released its report on fundraising at America's richest institutions. The only surprise: Harvard wasn't on top.

But digging down, it's clear that the year was pretty good even for small institutions. The stock market was up, and giving increased across the board. Almost 95 percent of institutions reported that their endowments were up.

As well, visit the Council for Aid to Education website for more data on private giving to education.