Magazine article The Christian Century

Churches Lag on Giving to Benevolence Funds

Magazine article The Christian Century

Churches Lag on Giving to Benevolence Funds

Article excerpt

Americans are giving slightly more for the day-to-day operations of their churches, but giving to missions beyond the local church has hit a 31-year low, according to a new report.

A report on church giving between 1968 and 1988 was released by empty tomb, inc., an Illinois firm that has tracked church giving and membership in Protestant and Catholic churches since 1972. The study found that giving to churches lags far behind the rate of growth in personal income, especially for "benevolence" funds that go to missions beyond the local church, including global projects and denominational support.

According to empty tomb, after-tax U.S. income rose 91 percent over the two decades, but giving to congregational finances rose just 66 percent, and benevolence giving rose just 15 percent, a 31-year low. While overall giving was up, giving as a percentage of personal income fell dramatically.

Mainline churches receive lower amounts than evangelical churches, but the researchers noted that the latter congregations are now experiencing a faster decline. To be exact, churches belonging to the National Association of Evangelicals saw giving as a percentage of income drop from 6. …

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