Is your rural or small-town congregation’s location an advantage or disadvantage? Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce bring their extensive research and writing experience to bear in their investigation of the impact of a congregation’s location on its health and vitality. The authors quickly discovered the complexity of their question. Is location regional, political, historical, or religious? What role do demographics play? To what extent, if any, do these factors impact a congregation’s vitality? Using information from several sources, including the U.S. Congregational Life Study, the authors correlate data, test myths about congregational location and vitality, offer nuanced observations, and suggest fresh ways of understanding congregations and the factors that impact their health and vitality. Several tables and appendices support the content and conclusions. Any congregational leader or member who desires to understand the relationship between a congregation’s vitality and its location will discover insights and help in this valuable work.
Reviewed by Janet Hoover