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“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” — Luke 23:42

Helping the church make fact-based decisions

Research Services helps congregations, presbyteries, synods, seminaries and other entities of the denomination learn more about themselves and their constituencies.  

Find out more about Research Services.

Awareness and Understanding of the Presbyterian Mission Agency

Research Services has released another Presbyterian Panel report! The Presbyterian Panel is a representative sample of nearly 2,000 Presbyterians (members and teaching elders) who serve for a three-year period and respond to questionnaires four times a year. The Panel provides a way to listen to and collect information about the general practices, beliefs, and opinions of Presbyterians.

The latest panel was designed to assess the general Presbyterian’s understanding of, reliance on, and trust in the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Click here for the report

Thriving Congregations: What are they doing right?

Thriving congregations are not always large congregations. Nor are they always growing congregations. Yet there is something about them that inspires and invites. Through stories of thriving congregations, you’ll learn (and possibly share) some of the most prominent characteristics of thriving congregations. Get ready to be inspired!

Click here for PowerPoint presentation

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Cover of the Comparative Statistics report

Comparative Statistics 2014

Comparative Statistics is published annually and summarizes data on PC(USA) membership and finances provided by each congregation to the Office of the General Assembly via the Session Annual Statistical Report. Information about teaching elders including where they serve is also included.

The report shows trends in areas such as membership gains and losses, receipts and expenditures, and number of ministers.

Download the entire report 

For questions, please email Research Services or call 800-728-7228 x5159



What’s Going on in Congregations?

Check out recent research on congregations from the two newest staff members in Research Services.  The links connect to PDFs of the PowerPoint presentations.

Congregations Leaving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), by Joelle Kopacz (M.A., UW-Milwaukee, 2008), Jack Marcum, and Ida Smith.
Since 2006, more than 300 congregations, with a total of around 100,000 members, have left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). What are the unique characteristics of these congregations, and what are the implications of this trend for the denomination?

Yeast Makes the Bread Rise:  How the Great Banquet Renewal Movement Could Help Revitalize Mainline Congregations, by Deb Coe (Ph.D., Purdue, 2011). 
Like its better-known cousins, Cursillo and Walk to Emmaus, the Great Banquet is a program designed to bring about personal and spiritual renewal.  Learn the intriguing findings from this in-depth study of two participating PC(USA) congregations. 

The ‘Dark Side’ of Congregational Context:  Small Groups and Civic Engagement, by Andrew Whitehead (Ph.D., Baylor, 2012). 
Church-goers are widely thought to be more civically engaged than their non-church-going counterparts, but little is known about how the popular phenomenon of small groups factors into this equation.  What consequences does small group participation at individual and congregational levels have for civic engagement?  The answer may surprise you.

Test Your Bible Knowledge!

How well do you know the Bible? Here's your chance to find out. Click here to download a file with several dozen questions that originally appeared on a 2011 Presbyterian Panel survey. A separate document provides the correct responses.

The document actually includes two sets of overlapping questions, a (relatively) easy set for people in the pew, and a more difficult one designed for ministers. Try them both!

Then, when you're done, go here to see how your responses compare with those of representative samples of Presbyterians who took the quiz as part of the Presbyterian Panel.


A Snapshot of Presbyterians

By Andrew Browne (Board of Pensions) and Deborah Bruce (Research Services)

This PowerPoint presentation was given in plenary at the 22oth General Assembly (2012) in Pittsburgh and contains demographic information about Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) membership, worshipers, congregations, and participants in the benefits plan.


New Presbyterian Churches Report

How are new PC(USA) churches different from others? What do their worshipers say about their experiences there? What strengths do these congregations have?

We recently invited the newest Presbyterian churches (organized between 1990 and 2009) to take part in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. See what we learned from the responses of their worshipers and the pastors of these churches in our new resource: New Presbyterian Congregations.




Fastest Growing Presbyterian Churches

How are fast growing PC(USA) churches different from others? What do their worshipers say about their experiences there? What strengths do these congregations have?

We recently invited the fastest growing Presbyterian churches to take part in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. See what we learned from the responses of over 8,000 worshipers and the pastors of these churches in our new resource: Fastest Growing Presbyterian Churches.




Who are we Presbyterians?

The Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians 2011 answers this question. The profile is based on the responses of nearly 4,000 participants in the 2012-2014 Presbyterian Panel.

Every three years the PC(USA) Research Services staff assembles a new Panel from representative samples of members, ruling elders and teaching elders (also known as ministers).  We first ask these Presbyterians broad questions about their beliefs, demographic characteristics, and religious practices and summarize their responses in the new profile.

Interesting results from the fall 2011 survey include:

  • The median age of ruling elders climbed from 58 in 2005 to 62.
  • More than three-quarters of members over the age of 25 are married.
  • Presbyterians remain predominantly white and college-educated.




Update what you know about Presbyterians

A Field Guide to Presbyterian Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why

Conducted by the PC(USA) Research Services office, the U.S. Congregational Life Survey tallied responses from 40,000 worshipers in a national study of Presbyterian congregations.  In the fall of 2008 and the spring of 2009 a random sample of 521 PC(USA) congregations participated in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey.  The survey was given in worship and included the responses of all worshipers age 15 and older.  In 2001, a random sample of 523 PC(USA) congregations participated. 

A  Guide to Presbyterian Congregations:  Who’s Going Where and Why (available through Presbyterian Distribution Services, order item 02056-10100) presents findings from the survey.  The resource is a companion piece to A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations, previously released by Presbyterian Publishing Corporation).