What is the economic halo effect?

Churches wonder: Are we relevant to the community, are we making a difference, how can we have a bigger impact?

On February 1st in the Philadelphia Inquirer, there was a fascinating article about “the economic halo effect.” In a research study, 12 congregations were measured by 54 separate different criteria of valuation. Astoundingly, the combined total of all 12 congregations was a value of more than $50.5 million to their surrounding neighborhoods.

The study takes on the challenge of putting a dollar figure on some of the most important work that happens in a faith community, for example preventing a suicide through counseling ($19,600) or averting a divorce ($18,000).

It even looks at the common practice of churches that rent/share space with other faith-based organizations, community groups or even businesses, and the positive impact that can have. In fact, one church is even described as a “small business incubator.”

So many churches are “down in the mouth” and discouraged. They may feel underappreciated and taken for granted, and they may measure their success only in terms of how empty or full their seats are on a Sunday morning.

This economic halo gives us another standard to use – another lens to look through. Even the smallest of churches IS having an economic impact, even if they feel like they have lost touch with the community. It’s a welcome pat on the back for the pastors and church leaders who are working so hard. It may seem sometimes like you’re not making a difference, but you are.

For us here at Coaching4Clergy, this reinforces our vision to turn the tides of closing churches and unleash the next great awakening. Because now we see that it’s not just about the members of the churches that have to close their doors. We’re getting the bigger picture of the economic loss it would be to the surrounding neighborhoods. 

When we coach a person or organization, we want to tap into what’s already great about them. Well, here’s some concrete proof of what’s already great about our impact as faith communities. And just like in coaching, let’s not stop there – let’s build on that!

What will you do differently in your church, now that you realize your economic impact?

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J. Val Hastings

J. Val Hastings, MCC, is the Founder and President of Coaching4Clergy, which provides specialized training for pastors, church leaders and coaches. Val is the author of the book The Next Great Awakening: How to Empower God’s People with a Coach Approach to Ministry and the e-book The E3-Church: Empowered, Effective and Entrepreneurial Leadership That Will Keep Your Church Alive. Val currently holds the designation of Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, the highest coaching designation.

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