Resources, Conversions, and Priorities…

Here is the average church budget according to Lifeway (HT: Alan).

49% – Staff Personnel
9% – All Other
5% – Missions Evangelism
7% – Computers, Office Supplies, Literature
9% – Denominational Contributions
9% – Utilities
13% – Buildings, Rent, Mortgage, Capital Funds, Projects

To simplify this, I will group, “Computers…,” “Utilities,” and “Buildlings…” into one group called “Structure Costs.”

49% – Staff Personnel
29% – Structure Costs
9% – All Other
5% – Missions Evangelism
9% – Denominational Contributions

I am going to be VERY generous and say that 100% of the “All Other,” “Missions Evangelism,” and “Denominational Contributions” are used directly towards some sort of discipleship/evangelism/missions/etc. project, which we will label as “Good Works.” Thus making our statistics look like:

49% – Staff Personnel
29% – Structure Costs
23% – Good Works

So, on average, 23% of any money you drop in the offering plate MIGHT be used for some sort of “good work.” And we probably can all agree the 9% sent as “Denominational contributions” is probably cut in half by administration costs, and I have no idea what “All Other” means. To be safe we can say that of the money you give, only about 5%-23% is used for some sort of mission outreach program.

(Here is some more information about where your money goes CP, IMB)

In Masters Plan of Making Disciples, Arn takes a poll of how people “came to their new relationship with Christ and their church.” This is what the poll looks liked: (NOTE: I do not always trust statistics, but I have a feeling these are fairly accurate)

Special need………………… 1-2%
Walk-In………………………. 2-3%
Pastor…………………………. 5-6%
Visitation…………………….. 1-2%
Sunday School…………….. 4-5%
Evangelistic Crusade…….. ½%
Church Program…………. 2-3%
Friend/Relative………. 75-90%
p.43 – Master’s Plan for Making Disciples, Win Arn & Charles Arn

I wonder, if 75-90% of all conversions happen because of a friend/relative, why do we spend most of our resources on building buildings, instead of building relationships?

Think about it.

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  1. Lew,

    (sarcasm alert)

    I think you’ve missed the point. Don’t you know that it feels so good to put our money in the offering plate and not worry about it? I mean, anytime God requires evangelism, service, teaching, hospitality, giving, proclamation, rebuke, exhortation etc. from us, all we have to do is point to the offering plate and get him off our backs. Now, it seems like you want us to be responsible for obeying God on our own. That’s not how we operate around here. We put our money in the plate and demand that others obey God for us by proxy.


  2. Lew,
    I heard a pastor say that if he could look at our checkbooks he would be able to tell us where our treasure was. Guess you could say the same about the average institutional church huh?

    Our last church was right on target with these numbers, %80 of the money went to salaries and facilities. (actually those percentages might be too generous) The budgets for all of the ministries combined were pathetic in comparison to salaries alone. The salaries alone took more money for one week than the entire year of Student ministry or men’s ministry.

    I agree that this sometimes gives us the excuse of saying, “well, I gave my tithe..” This mentality is promoted from the pulpit in many churches too. That’s a shame.

    Lew, the goal isn’t making disciples, it’s building structures and influence in the convention. Otherwise relationships would be the priority, not the institution.

    Great post!


  3. Alan

    An all the Lord’s people said, “Booyah.”


    I have heard the checkbook thing before. You’re right, probably the largest offenders of their own philosophies are the institutional churches themselves.

    You are right about the “tithe attitude.” I paid my monies therefore I’ve fulfilled my duty. Of course a lot of this stems from bad teaching, lack of discipleship and lack of discipline.

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    God’s Glory,

  4. It’s a vicious circle isn’t it? If you teach people what the Bible really says about the tithe then you could jeopardize the institution as it exists today. I’m not saying that it’s done intentionally, but I also don’t see many that are willing to address it either.

    If there was a charity that was asking for money and they told me that %80 of the money I gave went to paychecks and buildings I would be very hesitant to give to them…


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