NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A new report shows the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic was also affecting churches.

The survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research showed almost half of protestant pastors said the current economy is negatively impacting their church. Around one in six believed the economy has had a positive effect, and more than a third of pastors said there’s been no impact.

The report found congregants are not giving to churches as they did last year.

“Right now we’ve got about a third of churches are running behind on their budget, running behind the kind of giving they saw a year ago so they’re having to make adjustments and recently when we asked churches what kind of adjustments they’re making we saw that 6 percent of churches have had to delete a staff position,” said Scott McConnell with LifeWay Research. “Pastors and churches are continuing to try to innovate. And so they’re looking for ways they can continue ministry, continue to feed their congregation.”

The report also said there’s a disproportionate impact on African American and smaller churches.

“We see that overall about 35 percent of congregations are seeing their 2020 giving at a lower level than 2019 but among African American pastors that number is 50 percent. And so we see African American churches have to make tighter adjustments because of that,” McConnell said. “We also see that among the smallest churches, they’re also more likely to be running behind budget and those two groups also happen to be the same groups that are also less likely to meet in person.”

Click here to read the full report.