The State of Church Giving through 2019: Serve God with Money At-Scale or Serve Money
(31st edition, January 2022)
By John L. Ronsvalle and Sylvia Ronsvalle
Chapters update church member giving and membership data in the U.S. through 2019, the year before the COVID pandemic set in. Analyses include:
- 1968-2019 data for a composite set of denominations: Per member giving was down in current dollars from 2018 to 2019.
- 1921-2019 data for 11 denominations: Once again, in the most recent year, per member giving as a percent of income was lower than in 1921 and in 1933, the depth of the Great Depression.
- Future trends: Membership and giving trends indicate continued decline in coming years.
- Denominational overseas ministries support through 2019: A broad set of churches continued to direct, on average, two cents of each dollar received on overseas missions.
- Cost-per-day for various church populations to address global needs: For example, 1.2 million child deaths could be prevented for 28¢ per day from church members in the U.S.
- Potential Catholic giving in ten archdioceses: Ten archdioceses in the U.S. would have had an additional $110 billion a year from parishioners in 2019, if giving had been at the classic 10% level.
- An analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey 2019, and cash contributions to charitable causes: Giving to “church, religious organizations,” compared to gifts to “charities and other organizations” and “educational institutions,” received the most support whether data was analyzed by age bracket, income level, or region of the country.
- Chapter 8 is the special focus chapter. The subtitle, “Serve God with Money At-Scale or Serve Money,” sets the stage for the exploration of a topic that might give insight to the giving and membership trends presented in the first seven chapters. Citing data from Angus Maddison’s The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, the chapter explores the new challenge facing church members in the U.S.: their relationship to money in an unprecedented sea of affluence. Historical church leaders are quoted on the role of money and the church. However, currently the church in the U.S. has not offered a positive agenda for this affluence. The consequences of that lack of vision are explored, with implications for the church and society as a whole. It is suggested that the church in the U.S. is in a unique position to lead its members to help reduce, in Jesus’ name, under-5 child deaths occurring from treatable causes, and thereby offer such a positive agenda. Lacking such an ambitious goal of serving God by using money at a scale that matches global need, it is posited that, in light of Jesus’ statement recorded in both Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, the alternative is for the church to serve Money.
The State of Church Giving through 2019 is available…
- through Wipf and Stock Publishers