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Vol. VII, No. 1


Latest findings from FACT:

Congregations worry about finances

When it comes to their financial condition, a majority of congregations in the United States consider themselves financially healthy. But increasingly more congregations worry about their finances.

A new survey of 884 randomly sampled congregations of all faith traditions in the United States has found that 57% of congregations report that their financial situation is good or excellent. This represents a notable drop since 2000 when 66% of congregations said their situation was good or excellent.

The financial health of congregations varies considerably by faith community, the new survey found. Less than half (48%) of Old-line Protestant congregations reported that their financial situation was good or excellent, compared to 62% of Other Protestant congregations and Catholic and Orthodox parishes. 

These figures are from the just released Faith Communities Today 2005 (FACT2005) survey. The survey updates results from a survey taken in 2000. FACT2000 and FACT2005 are the first two of an ongoing series of national surveys designed to track changes in U.S. congregations and plumb the dynamics of selected congregational practices and challenges. Visit the FACT web site for more information about the project. 

This information appears in “Insights into Financial Giving,” the first in a series of publications produced by Faith Communities Today, a coalition of American faith communities working together as the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP).

David A. Roozen, Director of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, said that the new series “will provide a quick, engaging, encouraging introduction to the how and why of addressing a particular area of congregational life, such as financial giving. The new publications will be written especially for clergy and lay leaders who suddenly find themselves challenged to think about ways to help their congregation infuse that area with new energy and purposefulness.”

“We are committed to forming vital faith communities,” Roozen said of the partnership, “and this is one step toward that goal.”

CCSP plans to offer “Insights” as a periodic series, connecting the research it conducts with strategies for dealing with important issues facing congregations in the United States today. The first issue offers news, background information, resources and key questions to help congregational leaders study their financial condition and enhance their stewardship.

This is an important topic to congregations. The FACT2000 survey found that the most frequently cited source of conflict in congregations was over money. The FACT2005 survey found that congregational finance was among the top five challenges the respondents named.

“Insights into Financial Giving” offers tips on why financial giving is considered important, to help congregations as they plan their financial campaigns. For example, Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches, a recent study of church finances, identifies four basic motivations: Thankfulness and Altruism, Reciprocity with God, Reciprocity with the individual’s faith group, and Giving as an extension of the self.

“Insights into Financial Giving” poses 11 “bottom line questions” and asks congregations to consider which are appropriate to them, which take priority and what steps they would take to respond to them. One says, for example, “Remember that people give to people and not to budgets and shortages. The first rule of fundraising is to ask. Do you ask personally and connect the contributions to how they concretely assist people in their spiritual, physical, and other needs?”  “Insights into Financial Giving” was written by Dirk J. Hart, a retired pastor and denominational executive in church development.

FACT/CCSP offers research based resources for congregational development that are useful across faith traditions, believing that communities of faith encounter common issues and can benefit from one another’s experiences. It also informs the public about the contributions of congregations to American society and about the changes affecting and emanating from one of America’s major sources of voluntary association – local congregations.

Read the full press release about these findings on the Faith Communities Today web site.

What’s New

  • Keep those updates coming!

We continue to make changes to our megachurch database thanks to feedback from our visitors. Please keep those emails coming!  If you see information listed incorrectly or know of a church not on our list that has at least 2000 people in attendance every week, send an email to sthumma@hartsem.edu. Also, Visit our megachurches research page.

  • “Insights Into” provides clergy or lay leaders with new ideas to stimulate their congregation.  This new series of resources will provide a quick, engaging, encouraging introduction to the how and why of addressing a particular area of ministry.  The first edition is titled “Insights into Financial Giving” with future topics addressing Youth Ministry, Conflict Management, Church Growth.  More information about the series and purchasing information is available on the Faith Communities Today web site

  • Don’t forget another great resource! Insites into American Religion is a free newsletter that offers articles on particular religion research sites and their offerings, pointers to little known pieces of information or analysis available on the web, and tips for religious leaders and scholars for utilizing the web to best advantage.  View the archive of newsletters on this site.

Coming Soon!

  • The FACT2005 report will be available in late summer

We will send an email announcement when the report is available.  If you are not already on our mailing list or know someone who may want to receive our mailings, send your email address to: Samantha@hartsem.edu




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