Religious organizations operate churches, temples, monasteries, mosques, and similar places of worship. The largest groups include Christians, Muslims, and Hindus; major Christian organizations include Catholic, Protestant, and Greek and Russian Orthodox.
Religious organizations count more than 5.8 billion followers worldwide, or about 85% of the population. Christians account for about one-third of the world's population, followed by Muslims (nearly 25%), and Hindus (15%), according to the Pew Research Center. Among Christian denominations, Catholics are the most numerous. Sizes of individual congregations vary greatly.
In the US, religious organizations encompass about 320,000 congregations, according to The Urban Institute and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. About 70% of Americans identify as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center.
Demand is driven by consumers' desire for spiritual growth, guidance, inspiration, and demographics -- older Americans are most likely to attend church. The profitability of a church depends primarily on the congregation's ability to attract members who can provide financial support. Large congregations have advantages in their ability to offer more programs and activities. Small congregations can compete effectively by maintaining stronger connections with members. About one-quarter of Americans say they attend services once a week or more, according to Gallup.
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Religious congregations are similar to charitable organizations, in that they solicit money in various ways to fund charitable and educational programs, often called missions or ministries. These programs most often benefit congregation members or members of the...