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Confidence Dips in US Economy’s Positive Impact on Churches

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Fewer U.S. Protestant pastors affirm that the U.S. economy is having a positive impact on their congregations in 2019, according to a LifeWay Research report published Dec. 3.

While more pastors feel the U.S. economy is having a positive impact on churches (30% said so) than those who say it is having a negative impact (26% did so), the positive responses declined 15 percentage points from 2018 and the negative responses increased 12 points.

The remaining 41% said the economy was having no impact, up six points from 2018.

Of the 26% of negative responses, 3% reported very negative and 23% noted somewhat negative impacts.

Of the 30% of positive responses, 8% said the economy was having very positive and 22% reported somewhat positive impacts.

When asked specifically about the 2018 tax reforms enacted by Congress, 64% of respondents felt that it had no impact on their congregations.

Reports of giving trends in 2019 were mixed, with 37% saying receipts have been higher and 21% saying they were lower this year.

Thirty-seven percent of Protestant pastors said giving was about the same as last year, with 6% being unsure.

By comparison, in LifeWay’s 2018 survey, 42% reported higher offerings than the previous year, while 37% said their offerings were roughly the same, 15% said offerings were lower than in 2017, and 6% were uncertain.

“Fundamentally, the U.S. economy is in a similar place that it was a year ago,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, in a press release announcing the report. “Yet pastors are less optimistic about this outside influence on their church than they were in 2018.”

The margin of error was plus-or-minus 3.2%.

The full report is available here.