Communication Studies

Department Spotlight

Professor Researches Church Members' Values, Commitment

Michael Tidwell, an assistant professor of communication studies, is exploring connections between church members' values and their commitment to the church as reflected in attendance, volunteering, tithing and satisfaction with the ministry.

The project grows out of research in the private sector, which found a strong association between an employee's disconnect with the values of an organization and the employee's intention to leave the organization. As a result, corporations have focused more heavily on communicating their values in recruiting, hiring and training in order to boost employee satisfaction and productivity and to decrease turnover.

Tidwell believes that churches and other non-profits can learn similar lessons. He plans to survey members of several Spokane-area churches in an initial study that he hopes will yield results that lead to a larger national study.

"If my hypothesis is validated, it may mean that pastors and other church leaders need to take more time to affirm the values, mission and vision of their ministries," Tidwell says. "If people know that their values are shared and affirmed, they may be more inclined to invest themselves in the ministry of the church."

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