Christianity Today points to a study which starts to answer the question. Their article What’s a Congregation Worth? provides a nice illustration of a 1997 study by Professor Ram Cnaan.
In his study, he quantifies an urban congregation contributes around $140,000 of value to the local community. CT states he updated his estimate to $476,000 in 2009.
Some of the factors quantified:
- divorces prevented
- volunteer hours worked
- church budget – most of which stays in local community
- helping people gain employment
- getting people off drugs and alcohol
Anyone interested in a really cool research project? Try to quantify the impact today. Maybe different types of churches. Different kinds of programs.
Dr. Cnaan’s research shows a church’s contribution to the community can be quantified.
By the way, the article counts as a very good illustration of data. Perhaps not a visualization, but still very nice.