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Tithing to mainline Protestant churches as a percentage of income is at its lowest level in at least 41 years, according to a new report, and churches are keeping a greater share of those donations for their own needs. Parishioners gave about 2.38 percent of their income to their church, according to “The State of Church Giving through 2009,” a new report being released this month by Empty Tomb inc., a Christian research agency in Champaign, Ill. Just over 2 percent of income went toward congregational finances, such as operating costs and building expenses. Only 0.34 percent of parishioner income went to what Empty Tomb calls “benevolences,” such as charities and seminary training beyond the four walls of the church. Those are new lows, at least going back to the first report in 1968. via The Washington Post. QUESTION:  Do you even have any idea what the average person in your church gives?  Is it more than 2.38%?

A Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday forbidding the Rev. Joel R. Peebles, the pastor at the center of a battle for control over the multi-million-dollar Jericho City of Praise in Landover, from collecting tithes and offerings during church services. The court order is the first legal action in a court battle that began in October, just days after the death of Peebles’s mother, Apostle Betty Peebles, who co-founded the church and grew it into one of the region’s largest and most influential ministries, with more than 15,000 members and millions in assets. A group of church employees who claim that in the months before her death Betty Peebles gave them authority to manage the church’s finances had petitioned the court for the restraining order to block Joel Peebles, 41, from handling the money. Joel Peebles, who has been acting as senior pastor of the church since his mother’s death, has countersued, challenging the employees’ authority and the way they have managed the church’s money. In a two-hour hearing, Judge Dwight Jackson also approved a motion to establish a mediator to help negotiate a resolution and ordered the employees to provide the church’s financial records, which attorneys for Joel Peebles requested five months ago. “You can’t have drama like that” in church at offering time, Jackson said, admonishing the participants. The order will be good for 10 days in the interest of “peace and order and maintaining the status quo,” he said. via Judge blocks pastor from handling church funds at Jericho – The Washington Post.

I’m not sure where this statement came from, but many churches have said it.  I think our church still says this regularly… but it’s something that Casey Graham says you should NOT say this weekend or ever… because it’s simply not true: If this is your first time here, we don’t want you to give. Casey says:  Let EVERYONE in attendance know that the offering is a time for people to support the mission and vision of your church. via Do NOT Say This In Church This Weekend. What do you think? Todd