The economic downturn affects most of us, but churches are in a particularly bad position. They’re reliant on tithes/donations, private school tuition fees, and a stable worshiper base. All of those areas are getting hit hard.
Organized religion was already in trouble before the fall of 2008. Denominations were stagnating or shrinking, and congregations across faith groups were fretting about their finances.
The Great Recession made things worse.
It’s further drained the financial resources of many congregations, seminaries and religious day schools. Some congregations have disappeared and schools have been closed. In areas hit hardest by the recession, worshippers have moved away to find jobs, leaving those who remain to minister to communities struggling with rising home foreclosures, unemployment and uncertainty.
If the churches want to survive in this climate, they’ll have to adapt and change their old ways.
It doesn’t help matters that Americans are trending away from organized religion. Bad for them, anyway. Good for the rest of us.
How can non-theists capitalize on this?
One way is to provide former-churchgoers with a community for them to join — one that offers friendship, a safe place for discussion, and honesty about the world around us.
For so many people, the church is just a means to an end. They go there because they can’t find that tight-knit community anywhere else, and if religion comes along for the ride, so be it.
This is a tremendous opportunity for us.
(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)