This investigation extends research on religious congregations by examining how a sense of community and congregational conflict predict a sense of belonging to one's religious congregation. Based on a national random sample of 86,863 individuals nested in 424 congregations, we used multilevel logistic regression to test individual, congregational, and cross-level interactive effects. Findings revealed that sense of community dimensions of membership, influence, and emotional connections positively predicted belonging at the individual level, whereas fulfillment of spiritual needs positively predicted belonging at both individual and congregational levels. Conflict also predicted belonging; however, conflict negatively predicted belonging at the individual level and positively predicted belonging at the congregational level. Congregational conflict also moderated two associations between (a) belonging and influence and (b) belonging and emotional connection such that associations were stronger and more positive in the presence of greater conflict. Implications for future research and partnership with religious congregations also are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology