How Much is the Church's Good Work Worth?
Rarely are churches and ministries commended for the amount of good that they pour into their communities. In fact, in most cases pastors or clergy are only featured in the media the moment a scandal surfaces. And although pastors and church leaders are not perfect, the truth of the matter is that churches impact their communities far beyond the four walls of their church building. For example, a recent study revealed that the average American church provides $476,000 of social services annually. Multiply this amount by the 300,000 churches in the US and that comes to 142 billion dollars’ worth of social services churches are providing each year. Just to name a few, some of these outreaches include: counseling, camps for youth, neighborhood and school cleanup, food distribution, blood drives, voter registration, day care and financial relief.
It’s important to realize that when talking about “social services” this is not referring to mega churches or a trivial percentage but providing these services is the norm for churches both big and small. Also within the same study it showed that churches are equally involved with helping people regardless of their denomination, theology or whether they are conservative or liberal. Churches of all types make helping people a top priority.
What is most surprising about these outreaches is that churches do this of their own freewill. Because of the strict laws and uniqueness of separation of church and state in the US churches provide social services at their own expense without any government funding. This also enables them to not be limited to what services they provide or have regulations limit what they can do for each person or family in need.
In 2009, The Oregon Family Council conducted a survey to take a detailed look at what Oregon churches are doing for their communities. The results were astounding. Of the churches surveyed 96% offer resources to strengthen marriages and families. And 92% of churches engage in community service activities and support projects. But what was clear from the survey was seeing that churches are much more than a Sunday morning service. It showed that they live what they preach.
To read more about the good work churches are doing around Oregon and the nation download our report The Good Neighbor Church in Society or check out Ram A. Cnaan’s book The Invisible Caring Hand: American Congregations and the Provision of Welfare.