page. There, you'll find an excellent overview and a convenient launching pad to the resources of greatest interest to church leaders.
||Want to know the country of origin of the people living in your community? An earlier issue of Advance pointed you to a website, www.peoplegroups.info, where in just a few clicks you can find relevant information on your church's neighbors by zip/postal code, city or county. We compiled a dozen other helpful free links and titled that article Help Is a Click Away.|
Now we're offering another collection of resources, but all from one user-friendly website. It's the mother lode of research data called The Association of Religion Data Archives, popularly known by the acronym ARDA. The quality data and interactive tools can help your ministry team create customized reports to advance your impact.
We've listed below a number of specific tools you can find on the ARDA site. If you want a big picture look, check out ARDA's "Congregations"
Compare your church to the views of people in your area
What do people in your community value and believe? In order to learn the theological views of people in your area, use the Compare Yourself tool at the bottom of the congregational landing page.
This link allows you to see how similar your beliefs are to the beliefs of others in certain zip codes. After providing some basic information and responses about your religious habits, practices and beliefs, the website generates a comparison with the regional norm.
Discover the religious affiliations of those who live in your ministry field
It's likely that there are unchurched Christians right in your neighborhood. ARDA's GIS Maps feature enables you to view the population of a zip code by demographic data or by a religious adherence. The demographic data provides a sociographic, psychographic and demographic view of a community by 29 categories, while the religious adherence data graphs the population density by religious affiliation.
Equip your congregation with the knowledge they need to address different faith groups. Using the U.S. Congregational Membership section you can find out how different faith groups are trending in your area. It provides data on religious bodies from the past three decades. It chronicles the change and shows the trends for major religions and Christian denominations. You can view the data in table and map form, then use it to shape your church's evangelistic strategy.
View a quick snapshot of the churches that surround you
Don't miss an opportunity to collaborate with neighboring churches simply because you are not members of the same denomination. ARDA's American Denominations allows the user to trace the rich heritage of major denominations in the United States, to improve your understanding of the roots of the denomination of a neighboring church. It includes access to profiles, family trees and the ability to do a keyword search for denomination information. If you want to dig deeper, you can view detailed reports and see membership trends at http://www.thearda.com/Denoms.
Track worldwide trends about issues that matter to you
Are you sending mission teams or developing partnerships overseas? You can access profiles of countries around the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe using the National Profiles. You can view national profiles, regional profiles, compare nations and religions and search the seven data sources using keywords that range from "abortion" to "Baptists."
Using the Compare Nations feature, you can read summaries of nations by population, land area, life expectancy and per capita income. You can use the site to compare nations by religious adherents, religious freedom, socio-economic issues and public opinion.
These resources will help you spot worldwide trends among issues that matter to you and your church. They will also help you see the expansion and contraction of different worldwide religions including Christianity and its major denominations.
One Good Starting Point
ARDA also provides you with help in transforming their data into a ministry strategy. The best place to start is their community profile builder, which is a step-by-step instruction booklet to assist you in creating a
profile of your ministry