The State of Church Giving through 2020: A Theology for an Age of Affluence
(32nd edition, March 2023)
By John L. Ronsvalle and Sylvia Ronsvalle
- 1968-2020 for a composite set of denominations: Giving as a percent of income was at the lowest point in 2020, the first year of the COVID pandemic. However, the downward trend began decades before.
- 1921-2020 for 11 denominations: Giving as a percent of income began to decline in 1961 and membership as a percent of population in 1962.
- Future trends: Data for the 1968-2020 period was projected for both church giving and membership.
- Denominational overseas missions income, 2003 through 2020: In 2020, congregations spent an average of 2¢ of each dollar received on global missions through their denominations. In contrast, for the 1916-1927 period, a group of denominations averaged 8¢ of each dollar on global missions.
- Potential Catholic giving in ten archdioceses: If church member giving increased to an average of 10% from current levels, these archdioceses would have had an additional $115 billion to spend in 2020.
- Analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) 2020: Americans indicated that 58% of their 2020 donations went to “churches, religious organizations.”
- Chapter 8, A Theology for an Age of Affluence: The chapter considers three aspects of a theology for this age in which affluence is so widely spread in the U.S. The first section includes Figure 21, which charts the Angus Maddison analysis of per capita Gross Domestic Product in inflation-adjusted dollars from the Year 0 through 1998 AD. Ten points along this timeline indicate developments in the church, some having to do with attitudes toward money. The second section describes social developments in the U.S. that have accompanied the downward trends in church member giving and membership documented in the earlier chapters in the book. The third section explores verses and ideas of what a theology for an age of affluence might include.
The State of Church Giving through 2020 is available through Wipf and Stock.