Collections decrease for many, especially in December, new survey shows.
By Brian Kluth
More churches in the United States missed their budgets in 2009 compared to 2008, as the poor economy expanded and collections fell short, results of a new survey show.
Megachurches, in particular, reported notable declines, as did churches of all sizes in western states. And December—a month often viewed as the lifeline that brings the year-end giving churches need to meet their annual budgets—no longer may provide such financial security for church leaders.
The second annual "State of the Plate," survey, conducted by Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International's Church Finance Today and Leadership, polled more than 1,000 church pastors, staff, and leaders. It asked them to report on their church giving, budgeting, and generosity initiatives.
Churches appear to be in uncharted financial waters. After the October 2008 stock market drop, 29% of churches experienced a decline in giving. In 2009, the number climbed to 38%. Multiple research projects by other organizations last year documented the sharp decline in church giving, and the "State of the Plate" only confirms things worsened for a growing number of churches at the conclusion of 2009.
Five major trends emerged from the survey.
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