Taken for granted? Exploring the relationships between social service agencies and religious congregations.
Religious congregations play a significant role in the provision of social services in American communities. While some congregations establish their own social service programs, most do not. Instead, the majority of congregations providing social services do so by forming relationships with local service organizations. To date, however, few studies have examined these relationships in detail. Drawing on interview and survey data collected from agency directors, this research explores the relationships that exist between congregations and social service agencies in one Texas city. Research findings suggest that there are four primary types of relationships that develop between congregations and service agencies. These relationship types are identified and discussed. In addition, attention is given to the ways that service agencies utilize various congregational resources in these relationships and the ways that agencies negotiate religious and secular boundaries with the congregations that they relate to.