Factors Influencing the Diversity of Non-Liturgical Activities in Russian Orthodox Church Parishes
This paper examines the factors that influence the diversity of parish non-liturgical activities in Russia. According to congregational studies in other countries (Chaves 2004; Sider, Unruh 2005; Ammerman 2005), the number of different non-liturgical activities is a very important indicator of the development of social life in a parish. On one hand, the higher the variety of social activities available at the parish, the higher the probability that every parishioner finds something that fits his/her interest and predisposition. On the other hand, it allows us to compare parishes with different welfare service and social activity profiles on a unified scale.
The analysis is based on the Orthodox Monitor data – a representative survey of the core Russian Orthodox Church members (http://socrel.pstgu.ru/en/orthodoxmonitor) conducted in 2012 (412 respondents). Some of the questions were designed to ask the respondents to describe their parish as experts. These are the questions we use as the basis for the model described in this paper.
We used confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling with M-Plus 7.2 software to construct the models.
The results of the analysis suggest that the main factors influencing the diversity of parish non-liturgical activities are the presence of a strong parish community, the presence of children in the parish, and the parish prior leadership style. The leadership style is one of the most important factors influencing congregational social life, social services and programs. In some parishes it is the priest's fundamental responsibility to perform social work and organize social life, while in the other parishes this duty is outsourced to the laity. Partial delegation of these responsibilities to the laity has a positive effect both directly and indirectly (through the overall effect of community development), while the full delegation has a far more significant positive effect.