Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

Tired of hearing about the tumbling economy? Regardless of how inundated you've been with stories about the current economic woes, if you're a pastor, you won't want to miss the latest Barna Research survey regarding the economy's effect on churches and nonprofits.

According to a random sampling of more than 1,200 adult respondents across the country, one of every five households has decreased its giving to churches or religious organizations in recent months. Nonprofits have been hit the hardest, with almost one-third of all adults (31 percent) donating less to such groups. Among individuals cutting back on their giving, almost one in five reduced it by as much as 20 percent. Seventeen percent slashed their giving in half, while 11 percent decreased what they gave away by more than half. Worse still, a whopping 22 percent have stopped giving altogether.

Not surprisingly, those hit hardest by the economic downturn—and subsequently giving less to churches—are households making less than $20,000, as well as the 43 percent of families struggling with "serious financial debt."

Among those surveyed who attend church, more than one-third said their church had specifically addressed the economic turmoil. A larger percentage of churches (39 percent among Protestant churches) had offered financial counseling to those struggling, while about half (52 percent) had created opportunities for congregants to receive such material assistance as food or clothing.

"Most nonprofits and churches count on the fourth quarter of the year to produce at least one-third of their annual income," said researcher George Barna. "[But] the giving patterns we're witnessing suggest that churches, alone, will receive some $3 billion to $5 billion dollars less than expected during this fourth quarter. The average church can expect to see its revenues dip about 4 to 6 percent lower than would have been expected without the economic turmoil. We anticipate that other nonprofit organizations will be hit even harder." What are churches to do with such a bleak outlook? Beyond the obvious answers of prayer and a greater reliance on God, Barna suggested a shift in financial projections and planning. "With a large share of congregants expecting the nation's economic woes to drag on for several years, it would be wise for churches and nonprofits to reconfigure their financial models and plan to spend more cautiously over the coming two or three quarters," he explained. "Even if a congregation continues to grow numerically, this is not a good time to use dated financial projections and models. People's attitudes about generosity have been altered, as shown by their immediate donation behavior. We anticipate that a greater percentage of churchgoers will decrease both their giving levels and frequency over the next year or so. This is a time for church leaders to demonstrate restraint and wisdom in their financial decisions." [, 12/1/08]

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Graveyard

    An Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

    There are eight common patterns to look for.

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

  • The Key to True Power

    The Key to True Power

    Jesus overturned every worldly idea about power when He introduced the concept of servant leadership.

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Do yourself and her a favor. Take the target off your pastor's wife's back.

    Why Pastors' Wives Have a Target on Their Back

    Here are three instances of what we are doing to the wives of God's servants sent to ...

  • The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic.

    5 Qualities to Seek in the Heart of a Leader

    The hope here is that you would reflect on your own leadership and consider your own heart as a ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders