Rural Ministry Project, Lay Leaders, 1990

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The purpose of this project was to develop a profile of churches in Minnesota by focusing on rural congregations in 10 different denominations. These denominations included: Assemblies of God; Baptist General Conference; Christian and Missionary Alliance; Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelical Free Church of America; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Roman Catholic Church; United Church of Christ; and United Methodist Church. The questionnaire was designed to secure information about the types of congregations in Minnesota, the patterns of membership and finance, the range of activities in the life of the typical church, the ways pastors and lay persons see people being attracted to and encouraged to remain in rural ministry, and other relevant information about the present status of congregations in the state. In consultations with denominational leaders, research results were used to assist theological schools in better serving their congregations and denominations. The Lay Leader's Survey was completed by lay leaders identified by their church's pastor.

Data File
Cases: 202
Variables: 153
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 1990
Funded By
The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
Collection Procedures
Self-administered mail survey
Sampling Procedures
The sampling procedure was taken from Crossing Boundaries-Building Bridges, 1991: 11-12. Distribution of the questionnaire was to a random sample of rural congregations in Minnesota. Rural congregations were identified in church directories received from 10 denominations. After excluding congregations in the nine-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead and Mankato, 2,265 were identified as rural. While one definition of rural used was simply non-metropolitan location, another key fact in defining rural was economic function. The research defined rural churches as being in areas where their local and regional economies are influenced heavily by agriculture, forest product industries, mining, recreation, and other land-related forms of livelihood. The respective congregations for each denomination are as follows: Assemblies of God, 106; Baptist General Conference, 96; Christian and Missionary Alliance, 47; Episcopal Church, 79; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 906; Evangelical Free Church of America, 50; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 140; Roman Catholic Church, 541; United Church of Christ, 109; and United Methodist Church 191.

Assessment of the response in the total sample is not based on total church members, but congregations. The sample is representative of the functioning local bodies or groups of denominations in Minnesota.

Surveys were distributed to a random sample of 15% of the total rural congregations identified. Surveys were mailed to 340 pastors, who were asked to identify and to select a typical, knowledgeable lay person in the congregation to complete a form. The lay sample, then, is of identified lay leaders and should not be interpreted as a random sample of all laity. The clergy return rate was 65% and that of lay leaders was 59%.
Principal Investigators
Lance R. Barker, Ph.D., Professor, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities; Michael Ciba; Jane M. Soubroda; and Miles McNall
Related Publications
Barker, Lance R. (1991). Crossing Boundaries-Building Bridges. New Brighton, MN: United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.