Updated statistics: Christians Giving Less to Churches, More to Nonprofits

Call & ResponseThe Lead, and MLive all do a nice job summarizing the new stats from the Ronsvalles at empty tomb that Christians are giving less to churches and more to nonprofits.

Religious News Service summarizes (via The Lead):

A new report from Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based Christian research organization, contains an analysis that found from 2007 to 2008, Protestant churches saw a decrease of $20.02 in per-member annual charitable gifts.Meanwhile, Empty Tomb’s analysis of federal data found that annual average contributions to the category of “church, religious organizations,” which includes charities like World Vision and Salvation Army, increased by $41.59.

One reason? Churches spend more money on congregational finances and less on missions beyond the church walls, which is unappealing to people who want to support specific causes with a tangible, visible benefit.

Other highlights of the study noted by MLive:

Among the findings, based on data from about one-third of U.S. churches:

  • Giving to churches declined to 2.4 percent of a donor’s income, lower than during the first years of the Great Depression; an additional $172 billion could be available if church members tithed 10 percent.
  • Church giving spent on “benevolence” including global missions and social services slipped to 0.35 percent of income, the lowest in the study’s 40-year sample. Giving for “congregational finances” including staff salaries and building maintenance was at 2 percent, roughly steady for the previous 20 years.
  • While charitable giving nationwide fell 10.6 percent from 2007 to 2008, donations to “church, religious organizations” increased 6.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Best quote comes from Sylvia Ronsvalle via The Lead:

Ronsvalle called the findings “unintended side effects of the ‘seeker’ mentality” that creates a consumer mindset within U.S. churches, one that says “‘We’re here to serve you,’ not ‘We’re here to transform you into somebody who serves others.’”

You know that I am the first to note that churches are no mere victims in this predicament, but I am beyond disappointed that none of the commentators, Ronsvalles included, take nonprofits to task for their co-starring role in this tragedy. Surprisingly, nonprofits are uniformly portrayed as heroes and paragons of responsibility and impact in these pieces.

We’ll change that in our next post.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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3 Responses to Updated statistics: Christians Giving Less to Churches, More to Nonprofits

  1. Mike Todd says:

    Looking forward to the next post Eric. I’m curious to see how non-profits are responsible for or complicit in the drop in giving to churches…

  2. Pingback: The Glaring Omission in the Empty Tomb Stats: the Church/Nonprofit Complex | Transformational Giving

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