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Are you questioning
American Evangelical Christianity?

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Help us learn more about what it's like to reexamine being a "Christian" in America. Take part in a one-time group discussion to share about your experiences with  Evangelical nationalism in U.S. churches, and what you would like to see moving forward. 

About this study

Do you find yourself reevaluating (i.e. deconstructing, rethinking, examining, questioning, reframing) your American Evangelical Christian faith? Are there topics or ideas that you feel aren't welcome to discuss openly in church? Have you had a chance to connect with an online community? 


Participants in this study will join in a one-time intimate small group "discussion" where we will share about these experiences together. My goal as the researcher will be to analyze the themes that emerge from these talks in order to better understand what sort of messaging, programs, and opportunities would best serve and appeal to those who may be reconsidering their Christian faith or otherwise disentangling their relationship with the American Evangelical church. 


Participants will meet (online via Zoom, or in person) for a 1-hour conversation with five to ten other individuals. I will guide the discussion with questions intended to spark a conversation. If you're interested, please fill out the online form with your availability.

I'd like to participate

Please complete this online survey to indicate your availability to be placed in a one-time focus group discussion:

Eligibility to participate

To participate in this study, you must be:

Adult (18+ years),
living in the U.S.,
and fluent in English

Previously identified
or currently identified as
an Evangelical Christian

Currently (or previously) reexamining
your Christian faith/religion or church affiliation

  • What is a "focus group?"
    A focus group is a research method that brings together a small group of people to answer questions in a moderated setting. It's kind of like a group interview. The researcher will provide questions to serve as prompts for discussion. Just like in a regular conversation, you do not have to chime in on every single question unless you want to. It should flow like a conversation amongst the group, rather than a question/answer session.
  • How long will it take?
    Focus groups are scheduled for up to one hour, depending on how the discussion flows and how quickly we get through the different topics. Sometimes the conversation is great and may overflow past one hour, but as a reminder, you are under no obligation to stay any longer than you would like to.
  • Can I cancel/withdraw?
    Yes there is no commitment to participate and you can withdraw participation at any time. That being said, if you do change your mind please let me know in advance if possible (email rsmit024@odu.edu). I need a minimum of 5 participants per focus group, so if there are cancellations, I may need to reschedule the whole group.
  • What do I get out of it?
    We do not have any concrete incentives such as money, but this will be a safe place to discuss your experiences with others going through a similar situation and your participation will help us to better understand this and how deconstruction-focused content creators and organizations can better serve you as you journey through this difficult process.
  • How will you schedule the discussions?
    After you fill out the online screening form to indicate your availability, I will check to make sure you're eligible. I will then contact you with one of the times that worked for enough other people. If you confirm, I'll send you the Zoom link for that time, as well as one reminder the day before or day of the focus group. After that, I will never contact you again unless you want me to. Your info will not be saved or shared.
  • Can I remain anonymous? Will you protect privacy/confidentiality?
    Due to the nature of focus group discussions, with only 5-10 participants, it will not be possible to maintain complete anonymity among your fellow participants. However, the discussions are on Zoom and if you would prefer to use an alias name and keep your camera off, you may. I do encourage participants to have cameras on for the sake of facilitating discussion that mimics in-person conversation, but it is not a requirement. Your full name and contact information will never be shared, ever. I take the protection of your privacy and confidentiality very seriously. I am following all institutional procedures. Participants will not be identified in the body of research. As a reminder, participation is completely voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time. The Zoom meetings will recorded and the data stored on an encrypted institution server. No identifying information will be used for any participants outside of general demographics collected in the screening survey. All participants will be coded rather than identified by name (e.g. "Participant 1A, etc.). Please email Rae at rsmit024@odu.edu if you have further questions about privacy or confidentiality.
  • How do I know if I am "deconstructing" Christianity?
    "Deconstruction" of American Evangelical Christianity is a newly coined phrase to refer to people who were once part of Evangelical Christianity, and are now re-examining or re-thinking all or some of it. You can still consider yourself a Christian while deconstructing. There are 3 main audience groups I have identified for this study, which are: 1) "Deconstructing IN" - Those who are deconstructing some core beliefs but remain affiliated with Christianity; 2) "Deconstructing OUT" - Those who are deconstructing their faith completely and no longer identify as Christians (ie: agnostic or atheist, etc.) and 3) "Pre-Deconstruction" - Evangelical Christians who may be interested in "deconstruction"-related content because they have some doubts or personal experiences that they can't reconcile with some of the inconsistencies of the church's messaging/teachings. If you fall into any of these groups you are welcome to participate in this study.
  • I'm deconstruction another faith/religion. Can I still participate?
    Not at this time. This particular study is focused on Americans who are deconstructing their Evangelical Christian religion. However, future research may expand to look at other groups, too.
  • What is "American Evangelical Christianity"?
    "Evangelical Christian" is a broad term. Evangelicalism, also called evangelical Christianity or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide interdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity that affirms the centrality of being "born again", in which an individual experiences personal conversion, the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity (biblical inerrancy), and in spreading the Christian message (evangelism). This movement is notable in America as it has gained significant political power in the past few decades. This research does not intend to define Evangelical Christianity. Most Christian protestant denominations could be included. While Mormonism, Messianic Judaism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the like may share some similarities and doctrines with evangelical Christianity, they will not be included in this study at this time. If you are not sure about your eligibility but are interested in participating, please submit the online screening form and I will schedule you for a discussion if you are determined eligible.
FAQ
About the Researcher
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About the researcher

Graduate Student:

Rae Sipe Smith

rsmit024@odu.edu

Faculty Sponsor:

Dr. Ted Gournelos

Old Dominion University

College of Arts & Letters

Rae is an Old Dominion University graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Lifespan & Digital Communication.

 

This study is her final research project, which takes a strategic communications approach to online deconstruction communities to better understand them and discover insight into best practices for effective communication. This project is not affiliated with any church or business.

 

Rae shares a personal connection to this topic because she was raised in the American Evangelical Christian tradition, and is currently reframing what her faith means and looks like moving forward. 

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