Christian provides rebound on pre-pandemic ranges …… | Information reporting

Christian provides rebound on pre-pandemic ranges …… | Information reporting

SaveSavedRemoved 0
Deal Score0
Deal Score0

When the US economy came to a standstill in March due to COVID-19, financial forecasts for churches and other government departments were poor. However, a new survey suggests that these predictions may have been overstated.

According to a survey of more than 1,300 Christian ministries published last week by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), most Evangelical churches and ministries saw that giving increased or remained constant during the period due to restrictions on home stays .

Among the respondents, the total number of donations in April 2020 equaled or exceeded 66 percent of churches and 59 percent of nonprofits. An even larger percentage of churches (72%) and other Christian nonprofits (61%) indicated that their cash gifts reached or exceeded the January 2020 level in April 2020 as the economy was booming and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was rising Stock market approached its all-time high.

These healthy donation levels have been reflected in economic optimism. More than half of the heads of state and government expressed optimism about the expected monetary gifts from May to July, while 27 percent were uncertain and only 15 percent were pessimistic.

ECFA analyst Warren Bird told Christianity Today that churches and other nonprofits that have cash may want to consider using their "money to do duty" instead of "holding their breath to fear." that (her) circumstances are unusual and the floor is just falling out. "

That is a different attitude than two months ago. The survey on the condition of the plate, released on April 23, found that 65 percent of churches had seen a decline since mid-March. "There are difficult days ahead for pastors and church workers," said Brian Kluth, founder of State of the Plate. Similarly, in a March podcast, the Barna Group reported that 62 percent of US pastors said that giving was down in their churches.

However, the initial economic downturn reversed within a month when donations increased again and Congress provided small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. (60 percent of churches and 81 percent of other Christian nonprofits have applied for or planned on one of these loans, according to the ECFA survey.)

The key questions for analysts now are whether the positive outlook will hold up and whether parts of the Christian world will be left behind.

Picture: ECFA

The situation at Southridge Church in San Jose, California is in line with national trends. Pastor Micaiah Irmler announced a 25 percent decline in March before catching up in April and expanding in May. The community that operated auto services during the pandemic has an annual budget of $ 580,000 and is in the middle of a capital campaign to buy its first building.

Southridge's donations went almost entirely online due to the corona virus, about two thirds of them online before the pandemic. Nationwide, the ECFA found that 64 percent of churches saw an increased percentage of online donations between January and April.

"From what I hear here in Silicon Valley, we are not hit that hard," said Irmler of the Church's finances. His greatest insecurity concerns technology companies in the Bay Area, such as Google and Twitter, who decided during the pandemic to let many employees work permanently from home. "The only thing that makes me a little nervous," he said, "is how many Church members" could move out of our area "to lower their living expenses.

Despite the general optimism, the results of the ECFA were not all positive. Approximately one in five churches (18%) and Christian nonprofit organizations (20%) have hired non-essential roles. Eleven percent of churches and 14 percent of other nonprofit organizations have reduced the number or hours of part-time staff.

Among Christian nonprofits, smaller organizations are less optimistic about monetary gifts than their larger counterparts. From May to July, 46 percent of nonprofits with an annual budget of less than $ 500,000 said they were optimistic about gifts. For nonprofits with a budget of $ 500,000 to $ 999,999, the number dropped to 40 percent. Optimism was higher in all other budget categories, peaking at 67 percent among nonprofits with a budget of over $ 10 million. (In the churches, optimism was similar in all household sizes at around 70 percent.)

Picture: ECFA

Raleigh Sadler, executive director of the small Chicago-based Ministry of Human Trafficking Let My People Go (LMPG), was moderately optimistic about the organization's financial prospects. Between March and mid-May, the ministry's revenue fell 40 percent before starting an upward trend in late May. LMPG has been tracking major donors to fill the gap while waiting for small and medium donors to recover financially.

"Everyone started losing their jobs," said Sadler, LMPG's only full-time employee. "People were afraid. Everyone was unsure, so they pulled out their purses. "

African American churches are part of the evangelical world, where economic difficulties may not be reflected in the ECFA report. Bird told CT that he had no research to investigate the relationship between ethnicity and church donations during the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate for African Americans is approximately 4.5 times that of white Americans, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anecdotes indicate that the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus have affected black churches, many of which have had difficulty applying for or receiving stimulus grants.

America's largest black Pentecostal church, the Church of God in Christ, has seen seven of its bishops die from coronavirus, ABC News reported. Pastor A. R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, said the pandemic had taken “many traditional black churches” by surprise because they lacked a “digital footprint” that enabled them to easily move worship and donate online.

Nevertheless, the overall financial history for churches and ministries is – at least for the time being – reflected in the title of the ECFA report: "Optimism outweighs uncertainty." ECFA will continue to monitor Church and ministry finances during the pandemic and will submit a new report every quarter for next year.

David Roach is a writer in Nashville.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply