Church offerings in the recession

Religion journalist Julia Duin reports on church giving during the recession:

The nation’s churches are staggering under the depressed economy, with more than one-third reporting decreases in giving last year, according to a survey.

A “State of the Plate” survey of 1,017 churches sponsored by Christianity Today International (CTI) and the Colorado Springs firm Maximum Generosity reported that 38 percent saw their income drop in 2009, compared with 29 percent seeing drops in 2008.

Although the report did not specify how much giving has dropped, a similar survey of 1,168 churches released last spring by CTI said weekly contributions were down 2 percent or more.

The nation’s worst recession since the 1930s has sent churches into an “unprecedented” economic dive, with the nation’s megachurches being the hardest hit, survey data show.

That is, 47 percent of churches with 2,000 attendees or more saw giving drop in 2009 compared with 23 percent of those churches seeing decreases in 2008. . . .

The news out of the survey was not all bad; 35 percent of the churches reported that giving was up in 2009, compared with 47 percent in 2008.

Thirty-one percent of the churches increased their benevolence giving to the poor and to help financially strapped members. Thirty percent increased their missions giving. . . .

Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb Inc., a Champaign, Ill. organization that monitors church giving patterns, said giving is not always down during recessions; in fact, it went up in 1974, 1982 and 2002.

via Recession impacts church donations – Washington Times.

Is this a glass empty/glass full kind of story? If 38% of churches saw giving go down, 35% saw it go up, leaving 27% that stayed the same. And if the average decrease is 2%, that doesn’t seem all that bad.

Still, I have no doubt that lots of churches are getting hit hard financially.

Why do you think megachurches are hurting the most? Why has giving actually increased during other recessions, but not so much this one?