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 percent of the population. Christians account for about one-third of the world's population, followed by Muslims (nearly 25 percent), and Hindus (15 percent), according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Among Christian denominations, Catholics are the most numerous. Sizes of individual congregations vary greatly.
In the US, religious organizations include some 345,000 establishments with more than 150 million members, according to the Religious Congregations & Membership Study, sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB).
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...