Survey: Recession's effects fading for some churches
March 30th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

Survey: Recession's effects fading for some churches

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The worst of the recession may be over for some of America’s churches, a survey released Wednesday on religions donations indicated.

According to the survey, called State of the Plate, 43% of churches saw a rise in contributions in 2010, compared to 36% that saw an increase the year before.

Meanwhile, 39% of churches saw their giving dip last year, down from 47% that reported declines in 2009.

The survey, which is not scientific, garnered responses in February and March from 1,507 churches, most of them U.S.-based. The survey included responses from 86 churches from other countries, primarily Canada.

“Giving increases have begun to provide a glimmer of hope for many churches,” the survey reported.

The economic recession has taken a financial toll on many churches, with some filing for bankruptcy or struggling to hold onto property.

Smaller churches were hardest hit in 2010, with about 4 in 10 seeing contributions decline, compared to 3 in 10 megachurches – those with 2,000 or more weekly attendees.

The survey was co-sponsored by Christian ministry Maximum Generosity, publisher Christianity Today International and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Churches responding to the survey represent evangelical (24%), Baptist (23%), Independent/Non-denominational (21%), mainline Protestant (13%), Charismatic/Pentecostal (12%), Catholic/Orthodox (2%) and other Christian traditions (5%).

The survey also asked about President Barack Obama’s proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable donations among wealthy Americans, with 9 in 10 churches reporting they would be negatively affected by such a move.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Money & Faith

soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. Reality

    The Holy Trinity:

    A summary:

    "The doctrine developed from the biblical language used in New Testament passages such as the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19 and took substantially its present form by the end of the 4th century as a result of controversies concerning the proper sense in which to apply to God and Christ terms such as "person", "nature", "essence", and "substance".[4][5][6][7]

    Trinitarianism contrasts with Nontrinitarian positions which include Binitarianism (one deity/two persons), Unitarianism (one deity/one person), the Oneness or Modalism belief, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' view of the Godhead as three separate beings who are one in purpose rather than essence."

    Many contemporary historical Jesus scholars have concluded that Matt 28: 16-20 is not authentic but yet another addition by Matthew to embellish the life of the simple preacher man.


    "Professor Gerd Ludemann

    Matt 28:16-20 The description of Jesus's appearance is minimal, as attention is focused on the content of Jesus' message to the Eleven. Ludemann notes that "the historical yield is extremely meager." He accepts the early tradition that various disciples had visionary experiences, most probably located in Galilee, and that these experiences led to the founding of "a community which preached the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as the Messiah and/or the Son of Man among their Jewish contemporaries." [Jesus, 255f.]

    Luke 24:36-53 The emphatic realism in the recognition scene that begins this appearance story mans "one can hardly avoid seeing this as a thrust against docetism. Evidently in this verse Luke is combating the same challenges to the bodily reality of Jesus as Ignatius, To the Smyrneans 3.2, does at the beginning of the second century." Ludemann concludes, "The historical yield is nil, both in respect of the real historical event and in connection with the visions which were the catalyst for the rise of Christianity." [Jesus, 413-415]

    April 1, 2011 at 12:21 am |


    March 31, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  3. Frederica

    Giving with pain is true giving. Keep giving, Christians, honor God and rescue the world!

    March 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  4. Susan

    Religion is the problem? Try lack of it. GE, for the second year in a row, is paying NO TAX.


    March 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  5. Larry

    Everyone knows God hearts money.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  6. Steve Portaro

    Hang on to your money fools...think your buying a ticket to heaven, religion a a huge business and a cult for the weak. Want to help others give to the Red Cross then you know its going somewhere, Not paying the law suits or hushing people for the rapping and child molesting priest!

    March 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  7. Unikraken


    March 30, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  8. BanksStillStealing

    When the government, Wall Street, Fed, and Banks forced Americas economy to shift from manufacturing to finance, that was the end of the America as we know it and the American dream...period. It will never be the same again until manufacturing returns, which it cannot due to cheap and unfair labor practices world wide that Americans cannot compete against. So, this recession will never ever end, so get used to it. That's what no body in political office or corporate office is going to tell you. I'm surprised you haven't figured it out for yourself already. Don't invest in Wall Street, don't buy on credit. The key is to save and whatever purchase you make, do so in cash. Go that?

    March 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  9. vel

    pretty damn funny that churches are doing so well, when a local mission is begging the community for funds. With about ten pages of churches in the yellow pages, you'd think their coffers would be bursting. But hmmm, are they not the "right" kind of Christian for the other churches to help out and feed people rather than having mega churches with state of the art sound systems? Pshaw, like JC said, the poor will be with us always. it's more important to shell out for a nice new car for the pastor than helping one of these people who God evidently wants to be poor.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  10. Ben

    Giving to a church is not about what happens to the money after you give it. Giving money to a church is simply an act of love and faith to God, to show Him that He is more important than money. Many of you who write on these forums and laugh at Christians for doing this should understand this. With this act of faithful giving comes a peace and an undertsanding that money is not the be all and the end all.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • vel

      " Giving money to a church is simply an act of love and faith to God, to show Him that He is more important than money." ROFL! oh my, if it is so unimportant, why do pastors make so much, dear Christians. I've not seen any with crappy cars and little houses. Why aer there beautiful megachurches.And oh the Catholics. nothing like keeping billions in art when that could be sold to help the poor.

      March 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • path mattters

      Giving $ to church is about the church being able to pay its bills, pay the preacher, and give money to missions abroad (not that they should).

      March 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  11. Chris

    Then now is a good time to tax them.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  12. delrose

    Your reply is awaiting moderation. Who is monitoring this site???????

    March 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  13. delrose

    Your comment is awaiting moderation? Who is monitoring this site?????????????

    March 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  14. Tom

    the supreme being is not amused lately with any of you, I just thought you might like to know

    March 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • path mattters

      Are you talking about Kim Jong-Il?

      March 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  15. David B (Oxnard, CA)

    So now would be a good time to start taxing those Churches. I mean if you are going to make money off of people's beliefs, we might as well get some money back for your grifting.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  16. Helpful Henry


    "My prior comment has been "awaiting moderation" all day..."

    Courtesy of poster @Reality
    Once a week WARNING for new commentators:
    The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".
    • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.
    Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".
    And said moderators still have not solved the chronological placement of comments once the number of comments gets above about 100. They recently have taken to dividing the comments in batches of 50 or so, for some strange reason. Maybe they did this to solve the chronology problem only to make comment reviews beyond the tedious.
    “Raison's Filter Fiber© (joking about the copyright)
    1. Here's my latest list – this seems like a good spot to set this down, as nobody's posting much on this thread.....
    bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to post that wonderful argument:
    Many, if not most are buried within other words, but I am not shooting for the perfect list, so use your imagination and add any words I have missed as a comment (no one has done this yet)
    – I found some but forgot to write them down. (shrugs).
    c-um.........as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, etc.
    sp-ic........as in disp-icable (look out Sylvester the cat!)
    ho-mo...whether ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, etc.
    t-it.........const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, etc.
    tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, (an unexpected one)
    va-g....as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant
    ar-se....yet "ass" is not filtered!
    jacka-ss...but ass is fine lol
    p-is.....as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, etc.
    o ficti-tious, repeti-tion, competi-tion.
    There are more, so do not assume that this is complete.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Preacherguy

      Thanks Helpful – You have been. Can't think of any words to add to your list right now – but I am sure some will make them-selves ap-parent. Thanks again. Peace.

      March 30, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Preacherguy

      Hey Helpful – I just re-read my earlier post. A word to add, given your advice might be "s-c–u-m" as in "s-c–umm of the earth" – whcih I feel like some people think all religious folk are. It's not true – just like it would not be for all atheists or agnostics.

      March 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  17. clemsondave

    As a Christian, I'm actually kind of glad this has forced some churches to go under. We sure needed to do some housecleaning... too many churches not doing anything of value to the Lord or society, and yet still taking people's money. I imagine those are the ones that haven't made it in general.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • John Sharp


      Most churches aren't doing anyone any good. The scam that keeps giving, religion. These are simple businesses. They should be taxed like any other business. If you sell snake oil, well then your snake oil should be taxed just like every other product sold. I have no problem with people contributing their hard earned money to these scam artists, that is their inalienable American right. I have a big problem with these scam artists not paying taxes like the rest of us.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  18. jj

    Jesus saves, Moses invests.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • CB

      Jesus saves – and prevents another goal by the Red Wings!

      March 30, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Oobie

      Jesus shoots! He scores!

      March 31, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  19. derp

    Jeebus loves cash!!!!

    March 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Reality

    On topic and to the point.

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will converge these religions into some cost-free, simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired. Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Stewart

      What would be great is take all the homes and let the homeless have them. Give all the cars to the woman's crisis centers, knock down the churches and turn them into community gardens!

      March 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Ceri

      @ Reality. Blah, blah, blah. Thank goodness some of us are more tolerant and less arrogant than you.

      March 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Reality, are you saying we should just be worshiping some god individually without a religion? Or what?

      March 30, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Reality


      This should help:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      March 31, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Lycidas

      The most important thing in all that repeated drivel is "I believe".

      March 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.