Magazine article The Christian Century

Churches Receive a Smaller Portion

Magazine article The Christian Century

Churches Receive a Smaller Portion

Article excerpt

Individuals are donating a smaller percentage of their income to the church, according to a new study of 15 evangelical and mainline Protestant denominations by empty tomb inc., an Illinois-based Christian research organization. In 1997, congregants donated just 2.56 percent of their income to the church, compared with 2.58 percent the previous year, said the report, "The State of Church Giving Through 1997." In 1968, congregants contributed about 3 percent of their income to the church.

"We see a similar trend in both groups that on a per-member basis their members are devoting a smaller portion of their total resources to their churches," said Sylvia Ronsvalle, coauthor of the study, which analyzed eight National Association of Evangelicals denominations and seven National Council of Churches member bodies. "The portion of income they're spending on the church is shrinking. It appears the church is becoming less important in their lives."

Still, total contributions to the church increased between 1968 and 1997 for both evangelical and mainline Protestant denominations--about 79 percent for the former and about 15 percent for the latter, the study reported. That's partly because even though congregants are donating a smaller percentage of their income than in the past, that income is larger than it has been in previous years, said Ronsvalle. …

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