Video interview


We are interested in learning more about how congregations staff the mission of their churches, and how their pastor/ministry staff (paid and unpaid) understand the nature of ministry today. For this portion of the project, the qualitative research team conducted interviews with ministry leaders in forty churches in Washington, DC, and the surrounding area; observed meetings and worship services; and viewed these churches’ websites. In addition, participants were asked to fill out an online questionnaire to answer questions about their staff members’ roles and how staffing impacts their church budgets.

Qualitative Research Methods and Ethics

This research study includes 40 Christian congregations in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. We were careful to invite congregations that are small, medium, and large, as well as from urban, suburban, and rural settings, and from various religious traditions. Participants in the study were asked to complete a questionnaire, participate in an interview, and allow a member of the research team to observe a worship service and an organizational meeting. Additionally, we visited the websites and Facebook posts of participating churches to learn how they communicate with the public about their staff, worship, and ministries.

All data collected for this study are confidential and protected following the Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols set by, and under the guidance of the IRB of American University. Links to our IRB documents are found below.

The following documentation is intended to provide detailed and transparent information to research participants, other academic researchers, and the general public.

IRB Application

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IRB Application Appendices

IRB Approval Letter

Project Dashboard

Qualitative Study Percentage Completion

Congregational Mapping


  • Fall 2019. Pilot project launches in Logan Circle neighborhood.
  • Spring 2020. Fieldwork begins for DC Area Study. 
  • March 2020. Fieldwork suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • September 2020. Fieldwork resumes with remote protocols. 
  • December 2022. Fieldwork completed.
  • March 2023. Preliminary coding completed.