Religious organizations operate churches, temples, monasteries, mosques, and similar places of worship. The largest groups include Christians, Muslims, and Hindus; major types of Christian churches include Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox.
Religious organizations count about 6 billion followers worldwide, or about 85% of the population. Christians account for about one-third of the world's population, followed by Muslims (25%), and Hindus (15%), according to the Pew Research Center. Among the world's Christian denominations, Catholics are the most numerous. Sizes of individual congregations vary greatly.
In the US, religious organizations encompass about 312,000 congregations, according to The Urban Institute and the National Center for Charitable Statistics and American Church Lists. About 70% of Americans identify as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center. Protestants represent the largest share of Christians in the US.
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...