Church Giving Reaches Depression-Era Record Lows

Katherine Burgess sounds the alarm bells in her post back in October: Church Giving Reaches Depression-Era Record Lows. I’m most interested in the reasons given by Matt Branaugh, of Christianity Today for the decline:

  1. Economic struggles. I really don’t think so. Giving USA data shows an increase in total charitable giving in the United States during that same period. In other words, Americans gave more, but they gave to churches less.
  2. Decline in church attendance. This may be. We all know that many people tend not to give through the offering plate on Sundays that they don’t attend. But it’s not entirely clear that attendance has seen a very dramatic decline over the past decade
  3. Churches struggle with how to talk about about finances. Out of the three reasons given, this one may be the one most within our power to influence.

According to the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, in their most recent Congregational Economic Impact Study:

Congregations in which clergy are actively aware of the giving trends within their congregation were more likely to see positive fundraising results between the first half of 2011 and the first half of 2012.


Just 45 percent of congregations are led by clergy who are aware of what their congregations receive and from whom.

J. Clif Christopher, in his popular book, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, recommends that churches offer “regular, ongoing Christian financial planning classes.” Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is a popular offering that helps people plan their finances as well as teaching the value of generous giving.

Whatever the reason or the response — the news is dire and the call is clear.