Consensus on religious style, intra-congregational troubles, and ministerial role alienation in Lutheran congregations



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One of the purpose of this study is to test the assumption of consensus within denominations which is either explicit or implicit in many recent works on religion in American society. The hypothesis used to test this assumption is that the amount and nature of consensus vithin a denomination will vary from church to church, within congregations, between congregations and their ministers, and among ministerial peers. The site and number of clusters of numbers sharing the same religious style will vary from congregation to congregation. An attempt is made to locate congregations, members, and ministers on a continuum of religious style between two polar constructed types. Thia continuum is used to locate points at which partial consensus exists and to determine the nature of it. An attempt is also made to determine under what conditions consensus varies in amount and kind. Therefore, a number of subordinate hypotheses relating to possible intervening conditions are examined. Another major purpose of this study is to determine more precisely what are the effects of a lack of consensus on religious style, as expressed in role expectations for the minister. The hypothesis which was formulated for this purpose states that a lack of consensus regarding role expectations for the minister vithin a congregation and/or between a congregation and its minister gives rise to various types of trouble within a congregation and/or between a congregation and its minister, and contributes to role alienation of the clergyman in cases where he regards his work as a profession. In addition, the relation between certain socio-economic characteristics and types of religious style are investigated. Data for this study were obtained by nailed questionnaires which were sent to a sample of congregations in the Central States Synod of the Lutheran Church in America. Over forty-eight per cent of the questionnaires were returned. The congregations were selected by a stratified random sampling technique, while the sample of members was obtained by a simple random sample. The sample consisted of six congregations, their ministers, and a sample of their members. The findings support both the major hypotheses of this study, with some qualifications. Because of the small sample size, the data for the final portion of the second major hypothesis, which postulates a relation between lack of consensus among members and role alienation of clergymen who regard their work as a profession, are inadequate and therefore, this portion of the hypothesis is inconclusive. The data also show certain factors such as homogeneity of members and smallness in size, tends to increase consensus within congregations. Other factors such as rural or urban residence, education, age, income and occupation, are associated with certain kinds of religious style. Implications for future study suggest that cognizance of a possible lack of consensus on religious style should be noted. Studies to account for this lack of consensus should be undertaken including comparisons between 'confessional' end 'non-confessional' denominations. The amount and seriousness of troubles revealed in this study indicate a need far further Investigations of troubles within congregations, between them and their pastors, and within the denomination. This should include an investigation of the factors which tend to either Intensify or modify troubles. Some of these factors such as community size, church size, interaction of sub-groups within a congregation, are suggested in the deviant case analyses in this study.



Lutheran religion