This morning, The Wall Street Journal goes to church -- Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church, specifically, on International Parkway in Carrollton, where membership is high (4,000-plus pray at the arena-rock-sized megachurch) and shekels are low. Which has necessitated a few cuts superficial (lawn care, daily cleaning crew) and profoundly deep (wage freezes, layoffs -- the latter considered an "unusual step" at houses of worship). It's a common theme amongst all denominations' houses of worship, as evidenced by the titles of seminars held by Indiana University's The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving: "Congregations And The Economic Crisis" and "Religious Giving in Uncertain Times Conference."
And it's not just because folks have less to give -- they've also been asking for more during their time of need: "We are now seeing couples with $300,000 or $400,000 homes that need help with a big loan payment," says a member of the Bent Tree board. (But this is by far the most jarring revelation contained in the piece: "A coffee bar called the Crossing sold pastries and espresso.") On a very related note, this morning I also found this blog out of Fort Worth: Signs of Religion. Worth a look.