Church member giving did not recover in 2011, according to a new report from empty tomb, inc.

In 2011, in a broad group of denominations in the U.S., per member giving to Total Contributions was down in current dollars, in inflation-adjusted dollars, and as a portion of income, compared to 2010.

The new report, The State of Church Giving through 2011, the 23rd edition in the series from empty tomb, was released October 11, 2013.

Although declines were found in both per member giving and in membership as a percent of U.S. population, the report proposes that church leaders focus on Christians’ potential to impact global needs rather than on techniques to reverse the declines.

The trends are serious.  Church member giving to Total Contributions in the U.S. declined the last four years in the 1968-2011 period in inflation-adjusted dollars.

In 2008, church member giving to Total Contributions declined for the first time in current dollars.  Declines in current dollars also occurred in 2009 and 2011.

Membership as a percent of population for a set of 36 communions, including the Catholic Church, the two largest Protestant communions, and some of the fastest growing Protestant communions, declined 22% between 1968 and 2011.

The book concludes: “The potential, rather than decline, should be the focus of church leaders.  It is important to use the statistics to take the temperature of the church.  However, the next step is to evaluate how to get well, not hide under the covers.”

Further, the book advises that the solution will not be found in techniques, but instead a return to the core ideas of the kingdom of God.  That agenda would be found in addressing two key global triage needs.

The State of Church Giving through 2011 suggests two key global triage needs are: (1) reducing global child deaths, a goal identified by world leaders both in 1990 and again in 2000, and (2) engaging unengaged unreached people groups.

The new book notes that if action is not taken now, the difference between the 2014 goal and the estimated rate of progress in reducing child deaths will mean that 2,297,991 children under the age of five will die in 2014 who would not have died if the gap between goal and reality were closed.

Based on world agency data, the report provides a country-by-country analysis of both where these deaths of children under age 5 occur, and what the causes of death are.  Further, experts have estimated that an additional $5 billion a year is needed to speed up reduction of these deaths.

Strategy elements include:

1.  Church leaders can begin a coordinated, parallel emphasis across denominations and other church organizations to increase the priority level of reducing global child deaths among their constituents.

2.  Church leaders, both denominational and para-congregational, can launch a parallel yet coordinated distribution effort, through the vast network of church delivery channels already in place, to deliver the additional needed assistance to the children in the 74 countries that account for 96% of these deaths.

3.  Each of 187 church denominations can mobilize its own members to donate an additional $50 each per year to that denomination’s own efforts to reduce these child deaths.  Given the membership in these denominations, 100 million donations of $50 each through these denominations could raise the needed $5 billion to help, in Jesus’ name, reduce the number of global child deaths as part of pursuing God’s agenda

One or two key leaders could develop the church leader network to mobilize this effort.  To “prime the pump” for a discussion of who these leaders might be, the book proposes a “dream team” of national leaders.

The proposal,

is available at

Chapter 8 of the new report is available at

The full report, The State of Church Giving through 2011: The Kingdom of God, Church Leaders and Institutions, Global Triage Needs, and the Promises of Jesus, is available for purchase in book form through Internet booksellers or directly from empty tomb, inc.


Sylvia Ronsvalle
(217) 356-9519


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