I am not sure what I make of this column by Thom Schultz of Holy Soup. But I thought it might stir some useful conversation. He writes:
The American Red Cross spends 8 percent of its revenues on administrative and fundraising expenses. World Vision spends 14 percent. Compassion International spends 16 percent.
Comparatively, what do churches spend on personnel, buildings and administration expenses? Those items consume 82 percent of the average church’s budget, according a study from the Evangelical Christian Credit Union.
You could argue about comparing a church’s expenses to a public charity’s expenses. But the enormous disparity is striking, especially to the public. It’s made worse by looking at how churches allocate funds to direct ministries. According to the ECCU study, chuches use 3 percent of their budget for children’s and youth programs, and 2 percent for adult programs. Local and national benevolence receives 1 percent of the typical church budget.
When you look at it this way, is it any wonder the public questions the church’s return on investment?
Schultz seems to be prescribing a church that is run largely by volunteers, one that simply does without certain sorts of expertise that the charitable organizations he lists pay good money for. This does not strike me as the kind of church the public is looking for, but perhaps I am missing something. What do you make of his ideas?
(Hat tip: Bishop Andy Doyle.)