You know the bad news.
The recession is taking a toll on religious groups, with giving down and layoffs extending from denominational headquarters to local churches.
Now comes the worse news.
Even after the economy recovers, it is unlikely that church budgets will quickly rebound to pre-recession levels.
Sylvia Ronsvalle of empty tomb inc., a Champaign, Ill., organization that researches religious giving, has long been sounding an alarm about a downward trend in Protestant giving in recent decades. Per-member giving declined from 3.1 percent of income in 1968 to 2.6 percent in 2007, even before the latest economic downturn.
There is not a â€œcreeping crisisâ€ of relevancy in American Christianity, she said.
â€œIt is a galloping crisis, and itâ€™s immune to the economy,â€ Ronsvalle said. â€œThe church needs to dig in and figure it out.â€What do YOU think? Many of the churches I work with really aren’t seeing much of a giving crisis.Â Granted, most of those churches have great vision and leadership… are actually growing… and are doing quite well, even during these tough economic times. But I think this may be the exception to the rule. If a church doesn’t have a clear plan… a clear vision… and strong leadership, I’m guessing that they may be getting hit very hard. And there are some parts of the country, regionally, that are getting hit harder than others. Now that said, I think most churches, even the ones that are doing well, are a little shell-shocked.Â They are being more prudent with expenditures and are watching things closely.Â But overall, their giving is steady or increasing slightly. How’s your church doing during this financial climate?Â Is giving way down, holding steady, or up slightly? And what impact does vision and leadership have in how churches do financially during the tough times? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments… Todd
* Lean staff churches do a better job with volunteers and lay leadership development. * Lean staff churches invest a noticeably higher percentage of their budget beyond the walls of their church. * Growing churches spend a smaller percentage of their budget on staffing costs, so theyâ€™re â€œleanerâ€ than plateaued or declining churches. * Staff costs become leaner with size — as overall weekend worship attendance increases, but not dramatically so.We conducted the survey in partnership with our friends at Your Church magazine and Leadership journal, both publications of Christianity Today International. Options: Get the 45-slide presentation. Today we released the report pictured at right, for free download here. Itâ€™s in PowerPoint style, so itâ€™s visual and easy to follow. Read a two-page summary: See Matt Branaughâ€™s â€œA Closer Look at â€˜Leanâ€™ Church Staffs.â€ Heâ€™s editor of Your Church magazine. Listen to a 12-minute podcast where Matt and I talk about the project, free download here. Next Steps: Consider joining our â€œLean Staffâ€ focus group, a one-day forum on May 20 in Dallas. Weâ€™ll cap attendance at 25 people for maximum discussion. This is for churches that:
* Have staff costs at 35% or less of their total budget (or are intentionally and rapidly moving that direction). * Want to compare notes with others, learning healthy ways to downsize staffing costs. * Have a worship attendance (not membership) of 2,000 to 6,000.If youâ€™d like to learn more, contact Bonnie.Randle@leadnet.org. This fall weâ€™ll release another more in-depth report, announcing it in this blog and in Leadership Network Advance. No doubt weâ€™ll blog a few other findings too, including a summary of learnings from the focus group. Salary Survey: As long as Iâ€™m writing about budgets and staff, may I invite you to be part of our just-launched 2010 Large Church Salary Survey? We conduct it every other year. Reports from previous years (2008, 2006, etc.) are available for free download at www.leadnet.org/salary. Itâ€™s a very popular download because larger churches with attendance of 1,000 to 25,000 want to learn from peers in their size range â€“ which we cluster by different size groupings. Participants get the findings much sooner than everyone else. To participate, click or type this link: tiny.cc/2010Salary (case sensitive). Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 21 books on various aspects of church health and innovation. Recent blog posts include More Sociologists â€œGetâ€ Religion, Report from â€œThe Unthinkables,â€ Meet Some Amazing Leaders Reaching Hispanics in America, More Large Churches Are Bridging the Racial Divide, Why Is â€œEveryoneâ€ Interested in Leadership Development, Whatâ€™s New in Young Adult Ministries, Questions Raised by Executive Pastors, Downtown Churches: How Visible?, What Is Your Church Learning about Outreach? and Nigerian-Based Church Comes to North America.
- Between September 11 and December 31, we took in almost 1,250 donations on the kiosks. The average donation was $80, and the gifts totaled around $25,000 per month. (We have around 5,000 attending each weekâ€“so you can scale this up or down for your situation.)
- Kiosk donations accounted for 4% of our overall donations in the last four months of 2009.
- We have 3 machines. 2 at our Granger Campus and 1 at our Elkhart Campus.
- Prior to September, we averaged 42 new givers/month to our General Fund. Between September and December we averaged 67 new givers/month to our General Fund.
- Average monthly giving increased 3% in the last four months of 2009.
- During this time, we had 69 people give for the first time on the kiosks. In total, those 69 people subsequently gave $15,225 through the end of the year.