24 January, 2009

Church Contributions Down, US Economy To Blame

Baton Rouge, LA -- The final results have not been fully tallied, but the latest Christian Contributions Monitor estimates a 14% drop in evangelical tithes and offerings during 2008 from the 2007 period, representing the first drop over 10% since 2002.

TBNN executive producer, Tom Slawson, recently visited the largest MSA in Louisiana (Baton Rouge) in an attempt to discover why offerings in this locality were estimated to have dropped a staggering 47.61% 2007-2008 year to year.

Because the term "evangelical" is a broad term used to describe a wide variety of denominations, Tom determined that it would be better for him to visit business establishments rather than churches. A common theme emerged. Church contributions are down, and this drop in tithes and offerings can be blamed entirely on the state of the US Economy.

Tom's investigation began at Cracker Barrel for a 9 am breakfast on a Friday morning in mid-January. He attended with his wife and two of his siblings and their spouses who decided to take the day off from work. Because no tables were available, requiring the group to wait approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, Tom had opportunity to ask others waiting, "Why do you believe church contributions were down 47.61% in Baton Rouge in 2008"? He approached a young couple in a double rocking chair and asked them the question. They did not hesitate, "It's the economy. Things are bad," said the young lady. Tom informally asked several others the same question and received the same general response, "the US economy."

After the breakfast, Tom's group went to Best Buy to take a look at the latest electronics and gadgets. Tom especially wanted to visit the new Mac section to check out the MacBook Pros. While waiting his turn in line to test the ultimate computer, he found opportunity to continue his investigation. He asked the two gentlemen in front of him, "Why do you believe church contributions were down 47.61% in Baton Rouge in 2008"? The first gentleman explained that he heard recently on CNN that the Bush presidency had caused the recession. He added that he saw the hour long report on his new 52 inch Samsung LCD HDTV with a contrast ratio of 35,000 to 1.

Later, Tom and his group drove over to the Rave Theatre to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. They arrived about 10 minutes early, but with a group of 6, they were unable to sit together. This gave Tom a chance to ask the group of teenagers next to him the question, "Why do you believe church contributions were down 47.61% in Baton Rouge in 2008"? The immediate response from two young ladies was, "church what... contri what"? One of the older boys suggested that Obama would make things better.

After the movie, Tom's group headed toward the Mall of Louisiana, but after 20 unsuccessful minutes of searching for a parking space they decided to return home. Unfortunately, their timing was off because they were caught in the Friday rush hour traffic. When they turned on the local news radio to see if there were any wrecks that could be avoided, the first station had a call-in program where individuals were discussing how bad the economy was. An expert was discussing how the problem was so much more than the US and was a world-wide crisis. One caller suggested that Obama appoint Bill Clinton to the UN. "If we could make Bill president of the world and go to one currency, then things would get better," said the caller.

Tom's complete report will be posted on TBNN later this week. Preliminary results show that of the 47 people Tom interviewed at Cracker Barrel, Best Buy, and the Rave, 100% blamed the US economy.


fresnel said...

You know, friend Tom, I think I can explain this in short words for you.

There's the 'Gotta Pay' things like paying your taxes and tickets, buying gas and groceries: You don't cover these expenses and you ain't gonna be 'round very long.

There's the 'Real Important' stuff like buying the wife's birthday present and chipping in at the office: You don't cover this and nobody's gonna die but you sure won't be popular.

Then there's the 'Hey, I Owe This To Me' stuff like getting yourself a meal out once in a while or a decent TV. Okay, it's not life or death but it really makes a difference in the quality of life, you know?

Finally, there's the 'Give From The Heart' money for tithing and for do good charities; also dumping old stuff at the Good Will. Nobody'll know if you do it or don't do it; you're just being big hearted for others.

I think tithing's down because there's less 'Give From The Heart' money. It's just priorities, you know?

Peren said...

Kind of like "Sorry, the ice cream cone I dropped was yours."

Pastor Jim said...

I noticed the exact same thing as I was listening to NPR remind me about the sorry state of our economy. I was glad it was a long segment because it took nearly 20 minutes to get through the Starbucks drive-thru line.

Chris said...

"One of the older boys suggested that Obama would make things better." Bwhahaha...

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV)

Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
(1 Kings 17:8-16 ESV)

With the economy the way it is, now might be a good time to curl up with a good copy of George Mueller's testimony.

Dave said...

I'm not capable of choosing my financial priorities. God predetermined my Starbucks habit...

Jim Pemberton said...

Yeah. People can't afford to tithe 2.5% anymore with the economy so bad.