Is the economy hurting your church? That’s my question to you and the title of this Coach. Lifeway Research decided to put that question to American pastors. They stated that “2022 marks the first time since 2016 that more than half of pastors feel the economy is having a negative impact on their churches and the first time since 2012 that fewer than 10% of pastors see the economy as having a positive effect.”
At the same time, pastors, for the most part, are reporting that giving is at or exceeding last year’s levels. Here are a few key points in the recent Lifeway study:
- 7 in 10 U.S. Protestant pastors say that this year’s giving at their church is at or exceeding budget.
- 29% say giving is below their 2022 budget.
- 3 in 4 pastors say their offerings so far in 2022 are at or above 2021 levels.
- 23% say offerings are below 2021.
- Smaller churches struggle more as a smaller donor pool must give more to compensate for rising costs.
- African American pastors (36%) are more likely than their white counterparts (23%) to say their offerings are below what they were in the previous year.
If giving, for the most part, is stable, how is it that pastors feel the economy is negatively impacting giving? Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, gave great insight by saying, “Outside economic forces are back to being a negative influence for churches, according to pastors. As temporary assistance from the CARES Act expires, and prices and interest rates rise, churches are noticing the impact on their finances.” He concluded, “The souring of pastor attitudes towards the economy is more about rising expenses than declining income.”1.
Interesting stuff for giving geeks like me. The real question for you isn’t how giving is going for the pastor across the country, state, or street from you. The question for you is, is the economy hurting your church? While the economy might not impact your giving, your expenses are. How much does it take to fill the church van now? The follow-up question is, what are you going to do about it? Here is my advice.
- Keep casting vision. Why? Because good vision trumps bad economies. Cast a compelling vision, and people will give.
- Keep making disciples. By teaching biblical stewardship consistently, you will increase present and future giving. You will be doing both your members and your church a service, preparing them for any economy.
- Keep an eye on your budget and expenses. There are many things out of your hands, but this is one area you can help manage your church through our current economic malaise.
So, yes, the economy is hurting your church. The question is, will you do anything about it?
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach