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"Our selves, our time, and our possessions": Church attendance and *giving to churches in Nebraska

Paul J Olson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Much has been written in recent years concerning the relationship between religious pluralism and the effect that it has---or does not have---on religious participation rates in a given geographic area. Much of this research has been shown to be flawed on methodological grounds, which leaves sociologists of religion in a position of not knowing the relationship between pluralism and participation rates. In this dissertation, I adopt the theoretical perspective of the "new paradigm" in the sociology of religion and address this issue by using multilevel modeling (HLM 6.0), a new measure of religious competition, and two little used dependent variables (church attendance as a percentage of church membership and per full/confirmed/adult member monetary giving) collected from eleven Christian denominations in the state of Nebraska. ^ The results of the statistical analyses indicate that the vast majority of the variance in church attendance and giving in Nebraska occurs between congregations and not between the state's cities or counties and that the variables constructed to measure religious competition, market share, and pluralism have very little to no effect on participation rates. Instead of city and county contextual factors being extremely important, factors that are unique to individual congregations across the state, like church size, account for much more of the variation in attendance and giving. These results require a reassessment of the importance of the religious market in which a church is located and the way in which data related to religious participation rates are collected and analyzed. ^

Subject Area

Religion, General|Sociology, Demography

Recommended Citation

Olson, Paul J, ""Our selves, our time, and our possessions": Church attendance and *giving to churches in Nebraska" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3215149.