07 Methodology



This quantitative study consisted of two online surveys.

The first was a survey of 2,500 U.S. adults conducted from July 25–August 19, 2019. The sample breakdown was as follows: 1,505 U.S. practicing Christians (meaning they self-identify as Christian, say their faith is very important in their life and have attended church within the past month other than for a holiday service or for a special event, such as a wedding or funeral), and 995 adults who are not practicing Christians. The margin of error for this sample is + / – 1.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Researchers set quotas to obtain a minimum readable sample by a variety of demographic factors and weighted the two samples by region, ethnicity, education, age and gender to reflect their natural presence in the American population (using U.S. Census Bureau data for comparison). Partly by nature of using an online panel, these respondents are slightly more educated than the average American, but Barna researchers adjusted the representation of college-educated individuals in the weighting scheme accordingly.

The second quantitative online survey was conducted among 508 U.S. Protestant senior pastors from July 25–August 13, 2019. These pastors were recruited from Barna’s pastor panel (a database of pastors recruited via probability sampling on annual phone and email surveys) and are representative of U.S. Protestant churches by region, denomination and church size. The margin of error for this sample is + / – 4.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

This study also included ethnographic research and qualitative interviews with 18 individuals who had some kind of experience working with community groups and organizations. These interviews, conducted July–September 2019, used a flexible script to learn how such groups form, how they work and what makes them effective.

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