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Most Pastors Say 2021 Giving Is on Track

But those who waited longer to resume in-person worship, such as in mainline and African American traditions, still see severe declines in the offering plate.

Heading into Giving Tuesday and the year-end giving season, most churches don’t seem to be underwater financially, but many are treading water.

Around half of US Protestant pastors say the current economy isn’t really having an impact on their congregation, according to a Lifeway Research study. The 49 percent who say the economy is having no impact on their church marks the highest percentage since Lifeway Research began surveying pastors on this issue in 2009.

Almost 2 in 5 pastors (37%) say the economy is negatively impacting their congregation, while 12 percent say the economy is having a positive impact. Both positive and negative numbers are down from September 2020, when 48 percent said the economy was hurting their congregation and 15 percent said it was helping. The last time fewer pastors than this year said the economy is playing a positive role for their church was May 2012.

The two years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2018 and 2019, mark the only two times in the survey’s more than 12-year history that more pastors said the economy was having a positive impact than a negative one.

“Most churches are taking a deep breath financially following the uncertainty of the height of the pandemic,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “While the official recession ended quickly in April 2020, economic growth has been uneven, and few churches are feeling actual positive impacts from the economy at this point.”

After many churches faced budget shortfalls and decreased giving in 2020, 2021 saw most churches meet their budget and stop the decline in giving.

Seven in 10 pastors say offering levels at least met the budget this year. Almost …

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