According to data collected by Empty Tomb, Americans are giving more to religious charities while also giving less to churches.
Religious News Service:
A new report from Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based Christian research organization, contains an analysis that found from 2007 to 2008, Protestant churches saw a decrease of $20.02 in per-member annual charitable gifts.Read it all.
Meanwhile, Empty Tomb's analysis of federal data found that annual average contributions to the category of "church, religious organizations," which includes charities like World Vision and Salvation Army, increased by $41.59.
One reason? Churches spend more money on congregational finances and less on missions beyond the church walls, which is unappealing to people who want to support specific causes with a tangible, visible benefit.
The Grand Rapids Press has more about the study:
A new book, “The State of Church Giving,” says congregations have waning influence among charitable causes because their focus now seems to be on institutional maintenance rather than spreading the gospel and healing the world.But what is causing the turn inward? Have church goers become less concerned with outreach? Are people abandoning churches because they have turned inward? Or has membership fallen causing churches to cut "discretionary" spending in order to cover the mortgage, pay the rector and keep the lights on?
The 20th annual study by Empty Tomb Inc. reaffirmed a “long-term turning inward of congregations” exhibited by a dwindling share of church donations spent on benevolence and evangelism. It also found a dip in money given to churches during the 2008 recession, even while donations to religious organizations overall increased.