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Nondenominational & Independent Congregations

Very little is know about nondenominational congregations in the United States.  Yet, as of 2010, four percent of Americans worshipped in a nondenominational church.

If the nation’s independent and nondenominational churches were combined into a single group they would represent the third largest cluster of congregations in the country, following the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Our national research found over 35,000 independent or nondenominational churches representing more than 12,200,000 adherents.  These churches are present in every state and in 2,663 out of the total of 3,033 counties in the country, or 88% of the total.

They are the most dominant religious reality in 46 counties around the country. This collection of nonaffiliated churches, seen as a single entity, is among the top five religious groups in 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This page contains research findings about nondenominational congregations from several national studies (Organizing Religious Work & Faith Communities Today) as well as data from the US Religion Census (RCMS) study of all the nondenominational and independent churches in the United States. These articles and research summaries offer a glimpse into this growing segment of the American religious landscape.

National Profile:

Description of the 2010 National Census Profile of nondenominational churches

Maps of Nondenominational and Independent Churches:

Map of all US Nondenominational Churches

Percent of Religious Adherents that are in Nondenominational Churches by State

Percent of Religious Adherents that are in Nondenominational Churches by County

Location of Nondenominational Churches and Adherents by Community Size PDF format

Percentage of Nondenominational Adherents in the US Population by County


Current Research:

A summary report of the 2010 Faith Communities Today nondenominational research (coming soon)

Overall findings from the 2010 Faith Communities Today survey

Earlier Research:

A summary report of the 2000 Faith Communities Today nondenominational research

Overall findings from the 2000 Faith Communities Today survey (coming)

Profile of the 1998 Organizing Religious Work nondenominational congregations data

A comparison of the ORW and FACT nondenominational data

How many nondenominational churches are there?  Estimates and figures from earlier research

Research Articles about nondenominational churches & congregationsl leaving denominations to become independent:

What God Makes Free is Free Indeed: Nondenominational Church Identity and its Networks of Support  
A paper presented by Scott Thumma at the annual meeting of the Religious Research Association summarizing findings from the Organizing Religious Work nondenominational research and speculating on the attraction of the nondenominational religious identity.

Growing up and Leaving Home: Megachurches that Depart Denominations
A unpublished paper by Scott Thumma and Adair Lummis presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion/ Religious Research Association, 2007

Congregational Splits & Denominational Apostasy (PDF format)
A unpublished paper by David Roozen and Adair Lummis presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Sociology of Religion, 2007

 

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