Behind the Stained Glass Windows: Money Dynamics in the Church

Ronsvalle, John L., and Sylvia Ronsvalle. Behind the Stained Glass Windows: Money Dynamics in the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996.

The Ronsvalles report on their research concerning what church members and leaders think about money and its role in churches. They argue that giving, as a proportion of income, has declined sharply in both evangelical and mainline denominations because of a shift in public consciousness from a survival mode to a pattern of mass consumption. Original data in this book come mainly from a survey of attitudes concerning stewardship administered to nonrandom samples of pastors, denominational officials, and seminary personnel. Other points emphasized by the authors include: The rise of consumerism and increased debt means smaller amounts of resources are available for personal giving; Church trends in giving and allocating resources are similar across denominational lines; Church members now view giving as a fee- for-service responsibility rather than as a biblical imperative; Congregations are retaining a higher percentage of income compared to previous generations; Ministers increasingly find themselves without the moral authority to challenge people's lifestyles. Thus they are reluctant to educate parishioners in biblical principles about the use of money. (SM)