Journal of Community Psychology

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Determinants of sense of community in congregations

Abstract This study examined the contribution of personal aspects (i.e., self‐esteem and motivation to lead), social aspects (i.e., number of congregational friends and positive and negative societal conditional regard), and psychological aspects (feelings of loneliness) to the sense of community among congregational members. The study was conducted in Israel among 260 active synagogue members between the ages of 18 and 88 years old (mean = 32.91). Structural equation modeling indicated that social aspects made the most significant contribution to sense of community. A significant direct positive contribution of a number of congregational friends and societal conditional positive regard to sense of community was found. However, societal conditional negative regard made the highest negative direct contribution to sense of community, and motivation to lead made no contribution to sense of community. Self‐esteem made only an indirect positive contribution to sense of community via loneliness, and loneliness made a direct negative contribution to sense of community. Findings highlight the importance of the social aspect as a whole, and of societal conditional regard specifically, in understanding sense of community among congregational members.

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