Megachurches Growing Despite Poor Economy

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Megachurches across the country are holding their own during
uncertain economic times, a new survey shows.

Most megachurches continue to see attendance and giving
rise, and the bigger the church is, the more likely it is to experience
increases, Leadership Network reported in its 2010 Large Church Economic
Outlook Report
.

According to the Christian Post, survey results indicate that the economic downturn is having
little impact on America’s larger churches. A full 100 percent of churches with
8,000 or more attendees experienced growth in attendance and giving from 2009
to 2010. And all surveyed churches with attendance of 10,000 to 14,999 plan to
reach this year’s budget projections.

Overall, 81 percent of megachurches—congregations with
attendance of 2,000 or more—saw more attendees and only 9 percent reported
lower attendance. Sixty-seven percent of megachurches increased their budget,
with the average increase being 3 percent, and the same proportion said they
expect to meet their 2010 budget.

Most church leaders anticipate that their congregations will
finish 2010 in the black financially, according to the report.


While 71 percent said in an April-May survey that they
believe the economy is having “no impact” or a “slightly
negative” impact on the church and its ministries, only 58 percent said
the same in the October survey.

Sixty-four percent of megachurches gave church staff an
increase in salary from 2009 to 2010, but the majority of the pay increases
were only 1 percent to 3 percent. Only 4 percent of megachurches cut salaries
in 2010. The rest kept salaries the same.

Some of the ways megachurches have been adjusting to the
downturn include employing more volunteers, increasing emphasis on financial
training classes and creating more financial cushion in the church bank
account.

Notably, about one third of megachurches have shifted more
of their budget toward external ministry.


For 2010, 34 percent chose “church-wide financial
emphasis designed to help the poor or needy” as their top priority.
Thirty-one percent said a capital funds drive for new property or building was
a priority.

David Fletcher, executive pastor of The Chapel of Akron in
Ohio, said the recession has actually had a positive impact on churches reports the Post.

“The recession is helping us focus on what we really
need and want to do,” he said, as quoted in the report. “This is not
a time for superfluous programs or overweight expenses. God is using the
recession to help us hone what we do and why. It is a great opportunity.”

The report
is based on findings from a survey of 253 large churches. It is the second in a
three-part series examining the impact of the recession on America’s larger
churches.


The first report was released in September and details the
salaries of church staff and church budgets. The third report will be released
in December.


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