A special feature of the NCS-IV is that it gathered detailed staffing information that was used to conduct a follow-up survey of clergy who serve NCS-IV congregations. NCS key informants were asked to provide names and contact information for each ministerial staff person, and these reports were supplemented with staffing information gleaned from congregational websites, Facebook pages, and other online sources. This follow-up survey, the National Survey of Religious Leaders (NSRL), included all primary leaders of NCS congregations, whether or not they are paid, and, beyond the primary leaders, paid ministerial staff who are doing religious work in the congregation. Because the NCS is a survey of a nationally representative sample of religious congregations from across the religious spectrum, the religious leaders and paid ministerial staff beyond the primary leaders who serve NCS congregations in turn constitute a nationally representative sample of religious leaders who work in congregations. Building the NSRL on the NCS foundation is a natural extension of the NCS.

Unlike the NCS, which focuses on congregations, the NSRL focuses on clergy within these congregations. The NSRL is a survey of a nationally representative sample of clergy from across the religious spectrum. It replicates some items from the last major survey of clergy, in 2001, providing an opportunity to assess change since then, and it gathered data on subjects unexplored in any previous national survey of clergy. It surveyed the full range of religious leaders who work in congregations, including full-time and part-time ministerial staff, and including assistant and specialist ministerial staff (such as youth ministers, religious education staff, and others) as well as head clergy. The NSRL constitutes a significant new resource for deepening our knowledge about religious leaders in twenty-first century America.

NCS-IV and NSRL data can be linked to provide an even richer portrait of congregations and those who lead them. NSRL data and results should be publicly available sometime in 2022. It was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

To learn more about the NSRL, please visit the NSRL website (coming soon).

  • More than 5,300 participating congregations representing 80+ Christian denominations, plus Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious groups.
  • Information on demographics, leadership, worship life, community engagement, and much more.
  • Contains data tables, graphs, and detailed analysis.
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