On this website you can learn about the NSRL by reviewing the questionnaires, codebook, and methodological details. You also can read NSRL reports and publications, and link to a data archive from which you can download the NSRL data to analyze for yourself.
Explore the site and contact us if you have questions.
The NSRL is a natural outgrowth of the National Congregations Study. While the NCS is a survey of a nationally representative sample of congregations, the NSRL is a survey of those congregations' leaders. The NCS focuses on congregations' characteristics, programs, demographic compositions, and collective practices, while the NSRL focuses on the perspectives, activities, and beliefs of those congregations' leaders.
The NSRL is a survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,600 religious leaders from across the religious spectrum. Religious leaders of congregations participating in the fourth wave of the National Congregations Study were invited to participate in the NSRL.
A congregation’s religious leaders are those doing the core religious work of preaching, teaching, leading collective worship services and other rituals, and engaging in pastoral care. Each congregation’s primary leader was included in the NSRL sample whether or not they were paid and whether or not they were ordained clergy. Beyond the primary leader, we included religious leaders who were paid for their work in the congregation, and who served congregations with 25 or fewer paid secondary leaders. Since very few congregations have staffs that large, this size criterion does not significantly limit the NSRL’s generalizability. The NSRL sample still represents 94 percent of all secondary ministerial staff in congregations and the secondary staff in more than 99 percent of all congregations.
- 1,600 participating religious leaders representing 70+ Christian denominations, plus Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious groups
- Information on demographics, job and career, pastoral activities, health, perspectives on science, political activities, and much more