|Department of Religious Studies, Furness College, Lancaster University LA1 4YG.|
Methods and Findings
On this page you can find out about how we carried out the Kendal Project Research, and what some of our main findings were.
The Congregational Domain
The goal of this part of the project was to produce a detailed description of the various types of congregational, church and chapel-based religiosity existing ‘on the ground’ in Kendal.
We approached this initially through observing and describing services at all the churches in Kendal, and developing a new typology to describe what we found.
The attendance count
As part of the first round mapping stage, we did a ‘church attendance count’ in November 2000.
How we did the congregational attendance count
We found that 2207 people (adults, teenagers and children) of the population of Kendal attended the 25 churches and chapels of the congregational domain on Sunday the 26th November, 2000; that is 7.9% of the population of Kendal.
Summary of congregations mapped and counted
We selected one church in each category of our typology to act as a ‘case study’. Over the next year of the project, Karin attended services and other church events regularly at each of the four case study churches, and interviewed many church members about the meaning of their faith in their lives, both informally after services and more formally in hour-long semi-structured interviews. The selection of these interviewees was designed to represent a range of different people within the different churches, both in terms of demographics and in terms of their expressed beliefs and positions.
The congregational questionnaire
A questionnaire was also distributed in each of the case study churches, and in the Roman Catholic church, towards the end of the project.
Here we present some of the main findings from the questionnaire. Please note that this was not a representative sample of the churches in Kendal. We carried out the survey to explore whether our typology helped make sense of the main differences in belief and practice between the different groupings of congregations. You should see from the graphs that this generally worked very well.
The raw data | SPSS data file (271 kb)
The Holistic Milieu
The first task with the holistic milieu was the difficult one of mapping all relevant activity in Kendal. Our basic strategy regarding what activities to count was threefold. First, to avoid missing anything Ben mapped all associational activities (or at least as many as he could find) taking place beyond the congregational domain. Second, when carrying out the mapping during this early stage of the Kendal Project, Ben also ascertained the extent to which facilitators of associational activities saw them as having ‘a spiritual dimension’. Later, a questionnaire was administered to facilitators and participants of all those associational activities which appeared (from the mapping stage) to involve subjective-life spirituality. (One of the purposes of this was to test data gathered during the mapping stage.)
On the basis of our mapping of holistic Kendal, we chose a number of case studies for more detailed qualitative research.
The holistic questionnaire
We administered a questionnaire to all associational activities which engage with the sacred beyond church and chapel.
The raw data | SPSS data file (258 kb)
The Street Survey
Those actively engaging in religious or spiritual activity represent only a small proportion of the population of Kendal. The goal of the street survey was to investigate the vast majority who do not go to church or get involved in any alternative spiritual activities. A small area in Kendal was selected, with a wide range of different types of housing, for a door-to-door survey. Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit people’s beliefs, and information about their religious and spiritual backgrounds and practices.
More about the Street Survey Method
The Street Survey Findings - a summary