The General Council of the Assemblies of God (AG) in Springfield, Missouri, thus far has been able to avoid employee layoffs as the denomination downsizes to keep spending in check.
"Through attrition, early retirement, and job retraining we have kept those who want to remain under our employment," says General Superintendent Thomas Trask. The AG is at the three-year mark in a five-year cost-cutting plan.
The denomination, which has a $65 million operating budget, has not downsized since its founding in 1914. There are 11,800 AG churches in the United States.
The officially termed "re-engineering program" began in 1994 and has resulted in a 10 percent work-force reduction of 75 employees, according to Trask. Many long-time employees took the early retirement offer and left during the past year and a half. Lower-paying jobs have been eliminated due to natural turnover.
"We made a five-year commitment so it would have the least impact on personnel as possible," Trask says.
AG headquarters had to cut its budget, which had ballooned due to growing employment rolls and replacement of aging, multimillion-dollar press equipment. Denominational literature, curriculum, books, and magazines are printed at an in-house press plant that occupies a large portion of the five-story headquarters building. The plant is at the heart of the denomination's international missions efforts.
A number of external factors also contributed to the downsizing decision, including the economic recession of the early 1990s, competition in the Pentecostal Sunday-school curriculum market, and the implementation of desktop publishing. The internal and external factors converged as Trask came into office in 1993, presenting him with a potential budget crisis.
Trask estimates that AG headquarters is saving $1 million annually due to downsizing.
Unlike several mainline denominations that have tightened budgets because of an exodus in membership, the AG has grown steadily in the past three decades, to 1.3 million from 572,000. The denomination has an additional 1 million "adherents," or regular attendees, who are not official members.
"One of the dangers [in the church] is you keep doing because you've been doing," Trask says. "We have looked at our ministries, and if they were not needed, they have been eliminated."
The re-engineering has three components: manufacturing and publishing—which have undergone considerable changes already—and marketing, which is now under scrutiny.
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