Research on Church Financing

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 01/01/1996

Widespread practices within the church may severely threaten the future financial underpinnings of mainline Protestant denominations. For example, there is evidence that many congregations are rapidly spending up funds for current operations -- to close the gap between rising costs and declining revenues -- that for decades have been held in endowment accounts. Larger congregations have severely cut back their staffs, while smaller ones are paying pastors well below minimum compensation figures established by denominations. Deferral of necessary maintenance is becoming common and in some cases is creating a crisis in facilities management. Lewis will conduct a cross- denominational study of the financial practices currently in use in Protestant churches. The primary activities will be telephone and personal interviews with a variety of denominational leaders and persons acquainted with financial management within six or eight denominations. There also will be up to four meetings of scholars who will critique and redirect both the content of the information and the direction of the study. (SM)