Friday, December 19, 2008

Do churches grow in bad times?

Here's an interesting article in the New York Times about the effects of economic difficulty on religious participation. It appears, perhaps not surprisingly, that church attendance goes up when times get tough.

The article has various pastors talking about business being booming, and it also reports on a study by David Beckworth. He found that evangelical churches grew faster during recessions than during other years. Mainline churches declined, though at a slower rate.

Beckworth's explanation: "though expanding demographically since becoming the nation’s largest religious group in the 1990s, evangelicals as a whole still tend to be less affluent than members of mainline churches, and therefore depend on their church communities more during tough times, for material as well as spiritual support. In good times, he said, they are more likely to work on Sundays, which may explain a slower rate of growth among evangelical churches in nonrecession years."


Andy Rowell said...

LifeWay researcher Ed Stetzer also discusses this on his blog:

The Economy and Church Attendance

Brad Wright said...

Thank you Andy.