National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices Shows Both Growth and Decline
by Chris Munn, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy
The following guest article is from our partners at the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, who recently released a report on their National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices.
The National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP) complicates the popular narrative that religion is in decline by showing that there is more to the story. There is both decline and growth, and congregations are not uniform – they vary widely in factors such as participation, giving, size of budget, and demographics, as well as practices and beliefs. As the largest and most comprehensive nationally representative study on money and congregations in over a generation, NSCEP provides new insight into what is happening in U.S. congregations today and how congregations receive, manage, and spend resources. Even while fewer Americans claim a religious affiliation (Pew 2015) or membership in a congregation (Gallup 2019), NSCEP found that more congregations are growing than are declining in their number of participating adults and the amount of money they received. Thirty-nine percent of congregations reported a greater number of regularly participating adults in 2017 than three years earlier, and 48% reported receiving more money. The economic practices of congregations are diverse and dynamic. In fact, most religious traditions saw a greater percentage of their congregations increase in revenue than in participation. NSCEP takes a comprehensive look at how congregations receive, manage, and spend financial resources.
- Receive: Who gives to congregations, when and how?
- Manage: How do congregations teach about money and finances, and steward the gifts they receive?
- Spend: How do congregations spend their financial resources to serve their members, community and beyond?
Read the executive summary or full report at www.nscep.org.