The Religious Innovators and Flourishing Congregations project is a planning grant to develop a larger project that seeks to understand processes of religious innovation and change across diverse, global locations. This project focuses on how individual religious innovators contribute to religious innovation and change, and how innovation leads to flourishing congregations. Further, questions related to accounting for religious identity in the context of religious change such as beliefs and practices as initiated by innovation, are central to this project. Each different location is intended to introduce variation in levels of religious activity, and in relative degree of religious freedom (e.g., "official" via government, and establishment religion, and "unofficial" via intergroup differences and conflicts). Through the planning grant we will pursue several related activities, all leading to a proposal for a full project: We will 1) identify scholars in six global locations who would be good collaborators for studying religious innovators and congregations, 2) develop a life history methodology for studying innovators (including several pilot case studies and life history interviews), 3) refine the congregation mapping methodology that we have previously developed for use in this project, 4) write a working paper that utilizes new and emerging theoretical explanations of religion to develop a theoretical and methodological guide for a larger project focused specifically on questions of religious change, innovation and flourishing, and 5) write and submit a full proposal for a larger project.
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