In 2011 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) the percentage of a church member’s income given to the church was 2.3%. This percentage reflects a decline for the fourth consecutive year, marking the longest decline since the Great Depression. Additional research from Empty Tomb, including reports from 2011 and prior years are available online.
As one might expect, the overall decline is impacting congregations affiliated with denominations all across the theological spectrum. One perhaps unexpected fact about giving in 2011 is the generosity of those in the $30-39.9K income bracket:
Although those in the $150,000 and more income level gave the largest number of dollars to charity, those in the $30,000 to $39,999 income bracket gave a higher percent of income to charity that those in higher brackets, including the $150,000 and more bracket.
Even as the economy is improving, church giving as a percentage of income continues to decline. Church membership and average worship attendance are also continuing to show declines (a trend that has a longer history). With less people and those who are present being less generous, churches face significant challenges in crafting and living with realistic budgets for 2014 and beyond.
Compare your congregation’s actual income figures for the last 4 years.
- Is the pattern one of consistent decline, consistent growth, a mix of growth and decline, or stability?
- Do you think this trend is likely to continue in 2014? Why or why not?