Getting to Church

Exploring Narratives of Gender and Joining

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Sally K. Gallagher
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , September
     232 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Sarah Dannemiller forthcoming.


Why do people go to church? What about a congregation attracts new members? What is it that draws women and men differently into diverse types of congregations? Getting to Church assesses the deeply personal and gendered narratives around how women and men move toward identifying with three very different Christian congregations: one Orthodox, one conservative, and one mainline. Drawing on extensive research and ranging across layers of congregational history, leadership, architecture, new member process, programs, and service ministries, Sally Gallagher explores trajectories of joining, as well as membership loss and change over a seven-year period. By following both those who join a community and those who explore but choose not to, Gallagher avoids the methodological limitations of other studies and assesses the degree to which the spaces, people, programs, and doctrines within distinctive traditions draw women and men toward affiliation and involvement. Getting to Church demonstrates that women are attracted to specific doctrines and ideas, opportunities for individual reflection, experience and expanded personal agency; while men find in these congregations a sense of community within which they experience greater connection with other men, appreciate beauty, and yield to something greater than themselves. Drawing on extensive field work, personal interviews, and focus groups, Getting to Church challenges extant theories of gender and religious involvement.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Sally K. Gallagher is professor of sociology in the school of public policy at Oregon State University. She is the author of Making Do in Damascus: Navigating a Generation of Change in Family and Work, and Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life, as well as other works in the areas of gender, religion, family and caregiving.

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