Religious Congregations as Voluntary Associations: An Overview

Ram A. Cnaan, Daniel W. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article highlights religious congregations as a form of nonprofit organization and voluntary association. It contends that, when theology and faith are removed, congregations are a ubiquitous form of nonprofit organization. The article focuses on five key areas of understanding congregations: defining congregations in a manner that set them apart, the great variability that exists among congregations, why congregations are important, what congregations do that is unique, and who attends congregations. As there are many others aspects of congregational studies, the article also suggests other areas of study as well as key supporting citations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-33
Number of pages27
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • religious congregations
  • religious diversity
  • voluntary associations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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