Results of a new LifeWay Research study show that a majority of churches are still being negatively impacted by the economy. Nearly three-quarters of the 1,000 pastors surveyed said their 2011 offerings were at or in excess of their budget, but 67 percent of pastors still report that their church has been affected by the struggling economy. Nearly all the pastors surveyed reported needing to make at least one economy-related change in the past year, which included receiving more requests for financial assistance from outside their congregation (70 percent), their congregation volunteering more often to help the surrounding community (50 percent), increasing spending from the budget to help the needy (45 percent), and feeling a greater sense of caution when trying new things that cost money (44 percent). Nearly half of pastors surveyed reported that an increased number of people in their congregations had lost their jobs, and 15 percent say more people have lost their homes in foreclosure.

As a result of this, the report stated that churches are making do with less and intentionally launching new ministries to help the needy and disadvantaged. Nearly half of churches in the survey (47 percent) are holding staff salaries at last year’s levels, and 49 percent are doing more themselves instead of purchasing outside goods and services. A quarter (26 percent) have created new ministries to help the underresourced, 15 percent have delayed construction or other large expenses, and 10 percent have delayed hiring. Seven percent have laid off one or more employees in the past year. Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, commented, “Churches may be past the worst of the effects of the recession, but most continue to take actions to reduce expenses or maintain last year’s spending levels.”

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