New Report Examines Status of Church Giving

According to a new study by empty tomb, inc., a Christian research organization, churchgoers are growing more parsimonious when it comes to donating to their congregations, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

"The State of Church Giving Through 1998" studied the giving patterns of 29 denominations, including 100,000 of the estimated 350,000 congregations in the United States, and found that while per-member giving to both Congregational Finances and Benevolences (which includes the larger mission of the church, from soup kitchens and international relief to seminary support) increased in inflation-adjusted dollars from 1968 to 1998, the increase did not keep pace with the growth in congregation members' income.

According to the study, factors contributing to the lower rate include pastors' reluctance to ask for money and/or explain where the money is going, as well as an increased focus on material consumption by congregants. And because organized religion is generally acknowledged to be the largest recipient of individual giving in the U.S., the study's authors warn that it could presage a general downturn in charitable giving overall.

John Boudreau. "Church-goers Putting Less On Collection Plate" San Jose Mercury News 01/12/2001.