Churches & Religious Organizations

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 185,000 churches and religious organizations in the US provide spiritual worship, guidance, and education. Some organizations operate hospitals or schools. While such ancillary programs are generally managed separately from their associated organization, churches often provide financial support.

Slow-growing Membership

Church membership among major denominations has been flat or declining in recent years, challenging organizations to discover innovative ways to attract new members.

Ideological Conflict

Disagreements over controversial issues can cause congregations to split, significantly reducing revenue for the original organization.

Industry size & Structure

A typical church or religious organization operates out of a single location, employs fewer than 10 workers and generates about $940,000 annually.

    • Churches and religious organizations consist of about 185,000 organizations, which employ nearly 1.7 million workers and generate $174 billion in annual revenue.
    • Religious organizations include temples, synagogues, mosques, and shrines.
    • Church size can be classified by average weekly attendance: Small (less than 200 people), medium (200 to 400), large (400 to 2,000), and megachurch (2,000+).
    • About 24% of Americans claim to attend weekly, and 20% claim to attend nearly weekly or monthly, according to Gallup.
    • Large religious organizations include the Catholic Church (71 million members), the Southern Baptist Convention (14.5 million), the United Methodist Church (6.6 million), and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (6.7 million).
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Churches & Religious Organizations Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Coronavirus Update

                                    May 8, 2022 - Bible Reading Dropped With Declining Church Attendance
                                    • About 39% of respondents to a survey conducted for the American Bible Society’s 2022 State of the Bible report said that they read the Bible multiple times per year or more, down from about 50% in 2021. The 2022 result is the steepest decline on record. Lead researcher John Plake said that the dramatic change shows how closely Bible reading — even independent Bible reading — is connected to church attendance. Pew Research Center found that nearly a third of regular churchgoers who stopped attending due to the coronavirus pandemic have not returned to church buildings. Some choose to participate online, but others have dropped out completely.
                                    • Hawaii, the last US state with a mask mandate in place, allowed the mandate to expire on March 25. Churches and religious organizations are likely to benefit from the expiration of mask mandates if attendance increases. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance recommends that people continue to wear masks indoors in communities with high levels of Covid-19. More than 90% of US residents were in a location with low or medium Covid-19 community levels in early April.
                                    • Churches and other religious institutions experienced declines in attendance and collections due to closures related to the pandemic. Smaller congregations are more vulnerable because they are likely to depend on weekly offerings collected in church. Megachurches, defined as having more than 2,000 members, were best positioned to withstand extended closures, mainly because of their extensive online operations and online giving programs, according to NPR.
                                    • While vaccines have brought hope for a return to more normal worship services for many congregations, it will likely take time for attendance to recover more completely. In a September survey conducted by Lifeway Research, 45% of Americans reported watching a church service online during the pandemic. Of those, 30% usually attend in person. As the pandemic has progressed, repeated surveys by Lifeway Research suggest that pastors have continued to report that new worshipers who have not previously participated are viewing services online. Americans with evangelical beliefs are three times more likely than other Americans to have watched a service online during the pandemic. According to The Associated Press, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant prompted many churches that had reopened to return to online-only services.
                                    • Some health experts and religious leaders are worried ethical concerns may prevent some people from getting vaccinated. The Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) has said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective and ethical, and the group encourages their use. Some people are concerned that human fetal tissue may have been used in various phases of vaccine development. Medical ethicists have suggested the public good of preventing the spread of a potentially deadly disease outweighs ethical concerns about the sourcing of cells used in vaccine development.
                                    • The vast majority of US churches complied with various restrictions on in-person worship services aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as requiring face coverings, social distancing, and limiting capacity. However, several churches filed lawsuits claiming restrictions unfairly singled out houses of worship. In such cases, some rulings favored the church, and others ruled on the side of the jurisdiction that issued the regulations. Early in the pandemic, the Supreme Court sided with the states in lawsuits against limits on church attendance in California, Nevada, and Illinois. The Supreme Court later blocked an order in New York to limit attendance to 10 people in areas with severe community spread. In February 2021, the high court exempted churches from California’s ban on indoor gatherings in counties with high COVID-19 infection risk but allowed the state to prohibit singing and chanting during services.
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