In Indianapolis, the Crescent Project, which teaches Christians how to reach out to Muslims, has launched a podcast and sends training videos by e-mail to cut printing and shipping costs.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Woodland Park Baptist Church has turned to volunteers rather than replace two staff members who left the megachurch of 1,500 attendees.

In Alpharetta, Georgia, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board has asked team leaders to operate at 90 percent of their approved budgets.

Across the nation, the recession is pinching churches and missions agencies—not to mention individual Christians such as Steven Wilkes, who said he lost more than $60,000 in retirement savings when Wall Street crashed last year.

Yet Wilkes, editor of the Journal of Evangelism and Missions, said he believes a bad economy could be just what Christians need to evangelize the United States.

"People right now are more open to hearing about Jesus. They've lost something, and they're scared," said Wilkes, professor of missions at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tennessee. "I've told people that I'd rather my friends and relatives go to heaven hungry than go to hell full."

In Phoenix, Arizona, the "cradle to grave" services of inner-city Neighborhood Ministries help the poor with gas bills, medical care, and job training even in the best of times.

"The economic recession has created fear and hardship in this community, and the need is greater than the temporary 'bridges' for their physical needs they may have turned to us to meet before," said Jeff Boles, a development officer for the nonprofit.

On one hand, Neighborhood Ministries has found itself less able to meet physical needs due to declining ...

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