Survey Reveals Gap Between Church Budget vs. Actuals

Expert roundtable explores how churches are easing the strain

CAROL STREAM, Ill.,  — Your Church magazine recently surveyed nearly 1,100 church leaders to better understand the ways their churches spend money and prioritize budgets, as well as their views of the current economic situation. The results of the survey reveal an increasing gap between income and projected expenses for churches. According to the survey results, tithes and offerings, which comprise an average of 87 percent of the average church’s budget, have declined for 40 percent of the churches surveyed within the past six months. At the same time, 32 percent say budgets have increased between 2 to 10 percent over last year’s expenses.

Your Church magazine convened a roundtable discussion with five church leaders to review the survey results. “Historically, evangelical Protestant churches tend to be tithe-driven,” says Ed Stetzer, president of Lifeway Research, and a roundtable participant. “Effects of unemployment tend to lag a bit for churches that emphasize tithing, but as the unemployment rate continues to increase, more congregations will get hit financially. Churches need to be ready for this impact.”

On average, salaries and wages comprise 38 percent of church operating budgets, the largest expense, survey results show. Building expenses make up 12 percent, a distant second. When asked what options they have considered to reduce expenses, 20 percent of churches say they have implemented salary freezes, followed by hiring freezes, pay cuts, and layoffs.

To view the Executive Report featuring more on Your Church’s Budget Priorities Survey results, visit Christianity Today International is a Christian media ministry founded by Billy Graham in 1956, which publishes 9 print magazines and newsletters and operates an award-winning website reaching more than 2.5-million unique visitors monthly.

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