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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%?
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Trends
From the CNN Belief blog: Thou shalt not be required to financially support your church – but you should anyway. That’s the upshot of a new informal survey of evangelical leaders finding that less than half believe that the Bible requires church members to tithe, the practice of giving at least 10 percent of one’s income to the church. The survey, conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) among its 100-member board of directors, found that 42% of evangelical leaders believe the Bible requires tithing, while 58% do not. The National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s biggest evangelical umbrella organization, would not say how many of its 100 board members responded to the survey, which was conducted in February. The board includes such influential figures as the heads of the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God – a major Pentecostal denomination – and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Dan Olson, a Purdue University sociology professor who has studied tithing, says the new survey doesn’t mean Christian leaders think those in the pews shouldn’t give. “Most of those leaders would probably say, ‘you really ought to tithe, but the term ‘requires’ gets at a theological point,” he said. “Most Christians would say the laws of the Old Testament are not what save you – you’re supposed to be giving out of a spirit of freedom, not because you’re bound to laws,” he said. The National Association of Evangelicals’ survey found that 95% of evangelical leaders say they give at least 10% of their salaries to church. A recent study by group that tracks church giving, called Empty Tomb, Inc., found that evangelicals on a whole give an average of 4% of their income to their church, though Olson suspects the average is much lower, around 1% or 2%. via CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs. // What do you think?  Does this study surprise you?  Do you hold to the view that the New Testament demands a tithe, or is that strictly old testament?  And… if you believe the tithe… do you subscribe, as some do, that the entire tithe needs to be given 100% to the local church?
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Staffing
I found this over at ChurchThought.com and thought it was a great question. It’s based off a recent Dave Ramsey quote: @daveramsey said:
“Don’t hire anyone without seeing their home budget. If they can’t live on what you can afford to pay, don’t waste each other’s time.”
What do you think of that? Is that reaching too far, or is it a prudent move as you hire your next staff person? More here…
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Uncategorized
You may have seen them advertised, or thought they were only for larger churches.  But do those automated, ATM-like giving kiosks really work?  Tim Stevens reports that giving is up around 3% at Granger Community Church since they’ve added the kiosks… Here’s some other things that Tim shares that Granger has learned in their first months of utilizing the kiosks:
  • 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 week–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.
Is YOUR church using kiosks?  What have your results been? Have you been thinking about utilizing giving kiosks?  If you’ve been thinking about it… what’s held you back? I’d love to hear your input… Todd
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