Report calls U.S. church giving ‘lukewarm’
    October 13 2008 by Ashley Gipson, Religion News Service

    Americans spent nearly twice as much on first-day sales of the video game "Grand Theft Auto IV" as would be needed by the Southern Baptist Convention to share the gospel with all the world's "unreached people groups" by 2010, according to a new report on church giving.

    The annual report, by the Illinois-based group empty tomb inc., found a general downward trend in church member giving through 2006, which led authors to propose a "global triage to treat what ails the church."

    They said focusing on reaching new "people groups" and preventing child deaths around the world would help U.S. churches "sort out their priorities" to use what funds they do have more efficiently.

    "It's difficult to avoid the label of `lukewarm' when analyzing the church's level of response to Jesus' Great Commandment and Great Commission," said John Ronsvalle, who co-authored the study with his wife, Sylvia.

    Even Southern Baptists, a group highlighted as a "denomination that takes this religious task seriously," have not launched an aggressive campaign to fund the estimated additional 2,800 missionaries that would be needed to "engage" unreached groups by 2010.

    Empty tomb estimated it would cost about $11 per Southern Baptist to fund those extra missionaries; instead, the denomination's 2008 goal of $170 million to support existing missionaries is the equivalent of asking each Southern Baptist to donate just 31 cents more than last year.

    By contrast, Americans spent $310 million in first-day sales for "Grand Theft Auto IV."

    "The total portion of per capita income given to churches in 2006 was lower (in 2006) than in the worst year of the Great Depression," the authors found.

    The report estimates that for only $26 a year per evangelical, U.S. evangelicals as a whole could fund $544 million in efforts through evangelical-affiliated denominations and other missions agencies.  

    The report estimated that it would cost each U.S. church member just 8 cents a day to help reach the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of cutting infant mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
    10/13/2008 8:39:00 AM by Ashley Gipson, Religion News Service | with 0 comments
    Filed under: giving, SBC

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