U.S. Congregational Life Survey, 2001, Lutheran Attenders

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Lutheran > Summary


Over 300,000 worshipers in over 2,000 congregations across America participated in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey--making it the largest survey of worshipers in America ever conducted. Three types of surveys were completed in each participating congregation: (a) an attendee survey completed by all worshipers age 15 and older who attended worship services during the weekend of April 29, 2001; (b) a Congregational Profile describing the congregation’s facilities, staff, programs, and worship services completed by one person in the congregation; and (c) a Leader Survey completed by the pastor, priest, minister, rabbi, or other leader. Together the information collected provides a unique three-dimensional look at religious life in America.” (From Appendix 1, A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why. U.S. Congregational Life Survey Methodology.) This data file contains data for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) random sample Attenders only. The Congregational Life Survey also has a Congregational profile for ELCA congregations and a Leader survey of ELCA leaders.

Data File
Cases: 43,463
Variables: 153
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: April 29, 2001
Original Survey (Instrument)
USCLS Attender Survey
Funded By
The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
The Louisville Institute
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Collection Procedures
Self-administered surveys
Sampling Procedures
The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago identified a random sample of U.S. congregations attended by individuals who participated in the General Social Survey (GSS) in the year 2000. All GSS participants who reported that they attended worship at least once in the prior year were asked to name the place where they worshiped. Since the GSS involves a national random sample of individuals, congregations identified by GSS participants comprise a national random sample of congregations. NORC researchers verified that each nominated congregation was an actual congregation and then invited each congregation to participate in the project.

Denominations were also invited and encouraged to draw a random sample of their congregations. Denominational samples were large enough so that the results are representative of worshipers and congregations in each denomination. This allows denominations to compare their typical congregation and worshiper to congregations and worshipers in other denominations. Denominations participating in this oversampling procedure were: Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Roman Catholic Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church (UMC), and United Church of Christ (UCC). (From Appendix 1, A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why. U.S. Congregational Life Survey Methodology.) In the ELCA oversample, 1,184 congregations were invited to participate. 477 agreed to participate and 422 returned the completed attender forms.

Of invited congregations, 40 percent agreed to participate. Of those that agreed to participate, 88 percent returned completed forms. Of invited congregations, 37 percent returned completed forms.

The ELCA attender data can be linked to the ELCA Profile and Leader data by the CONGREGA variable. Note: The CONGREGA variable in the Attender and Profile surveys is the same variable as the ID variable in the Leader survey.
Principal Investigators
Cynthia Woolever, Professor of Sociology of Religious Organizations, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary, co-principal investigator

Keith Wulff, Coordinator of Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), co-principal investigator

Deborah Bruce, Associate Research Manager, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), project manager

Ida Smith-Williams, Associate for Information, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), data management specialist

Marty Smith, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, coordinated the congregational sampling and recruiting of congregations for the ELCA oversample
Related Publications
A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why. 2002. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

Beyond the Ordinary: 10 Strengths of U.S. Congregations. 2004. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Westminster John Knox Press.

Other reports are listed at: http://www.USCongregations.org under Key Results.

ELCA results are available at: http://archive.elca.org/re/USCongs/uscongfp.html.