Thursday, October 19, 2006

Church Giving Report Released

A report released by empty tomb, inc. on Oct. 13 examined the giving trends of church members in the United States in 2004 and determined that financial contributions to churches were down as a percent of income for a second consecutive year when compared with previous years. Church members gave 2.56 percent of their income, down from 3.11 percent in 1968.

The Illinois-based Christian research organization found that giving to benevolent causes -- activities focused outside the congregation -- as a portion of income increased slightly in 2004 from the 2003 level. The levels for 2003 and 2004 both rounded to 0.38 percent, the lowest in the 37-year period empty tomb has tracked such numbers.

Empty tomb reported the rate of giving to congregational finances -- the funding of internal operations of the congregation -- began to recover in 1993 but was down in 2003 and 2004. The portion of income given to congregational finances declined more than activities focused on benevolences, the study found.

For each dollar donated to a congregation, denominations spent 2 cents on overseas missions in 2004, down from 7 cents in the 1920s. The study's authors, John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, said evangelical Christians could complete the task of global evangelization for 7 cents per member per day.

"Had giving been at an average of 10 percent in 2004 rather than 2.56 percent, there would have been at least an additional $164 billion available for the overseas and domestic mission work of churches," the authors noted.

Additional data is available through the empty tomb website,, and the entire report is available in a book called "The State of Church Giving through 2004."


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