“… leave the institutional church? What is the impact of a loss of human, social and economic capital from religious institutions on a local community? ”
In, CHURCH: Exploring the Faith Lives of the Dechurched, I intend to examine how the Dones, those people who have left institutionalized, congregational church but not their religious identity, are living out their faith lives outside of the institutional church. I will investigate the ramifications of these practices on both the institutional church, a major component of American social life, and for society at-large. As people increasingly disengage from institutions of all kinds, it is imperative that we understand how they are organizing themselves and how their activity is shaped by the new resources available to them and how they cope with the loss of institutions support to coordinate community activity. My research design relies on an existing network of previously self-disclosed Dones to build an interview and observation oriented methodology over multiple years and sites. The results will both inform the sociological understanding of everyday or lived religion as well as the practice of religion through institutional actors such as seminaries, denominations and missional boards.