U.S. Religion Contributes $1.2 Trillion Yearly to Our Economy and Society

by Warren Bird

church-photo-1Religion makes a huge socio-economic contribution to life in the United States, some $1.2 trillion annually, according to recent research. These dollars range from the basic economic drivers of any business—staff, overhead, utilities—to billions spent on philanthropic programs, educational institutions and health care services. If that $1.2 trillion was put in terms of Gross Domestic Product, it would make U.S. religion the 15th largest national economy in the world.

Another study found that each historic congregation in America’s urban centers contributes around $1.7 million to its local economy each year. How? By frequenting nearby businesses, hiring local workers and operating schools, faith groups strengthen their community’s social safety net and economy.

Research like this underscores the huge responsibility that churches have for Christ-like, wise, talented, skilled and well-trained leadership at their helm. That’s why we put our biggest annual research effort into a huge large-church salary study (see leadnet.org/salary). One way churches use the material is to attract, retain and nurture outstanding staff. The executive summary is free and is titled, “12 Salary Trends Every Church Leader Should Know.” The webpage also offers several other helpful resources.