Nearly half (42 percent) of Protestant pastors in the U.S. reported increased giving in 2018, according to a LifeWay Research report released Nov. 6.
By comparison, 37 percent said giving was the same as in 2017 and 15 percent said giving was lower than last year. The remaining 6 percent were not sure.
Larger congregations are more likely to be experiencing increased giving this year, with 36 percent of churches with 250 or more weekly attendees reporting higher contributions.
By comparison, 32 percent of churches with attendance from 100 to 249 members and 21 percent with attendance of 49 or fewer members said they had seen higher giving.
Pastors were divided when asked about possible reasons for the giving trends.
While 45 percent said the economy was a positive impact on tithes and offerings, 35 percent said it has not impacted finances and 14 percent reported a negative impact.
Similarly, 49 percent said the 2017 tax reform would likely have no impact on their congregations’ finances, while 26 percent expected a positive result and 13 percent a negative one.
While the neutral and negative responses matched the positive ones, this year’s survey had the lowest percentage of negative responses regarding the economic impact on church giving since LifeWay began asking these questions.
Respondents from the southern U.S. generally had more positive views of the economy and the tax reform’s impact on giving than in other parts of the country. Pastors in larger churches tended to have more affirming perspectives on these topics as well.
“The increases in offerings so many churches are experiencing coincide with what most economists refer to as ‘full employment,’ as well as increased wage growth in 2018,” explained Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, in a press release announcing the report’s findings. “This could be short-lived as wage growth adjusted for inflation has been about zero in recent months.”
The full report is available here.