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Church Funding—On the Long Term Decline?

Across Europe, we’ve seen many great and historic churches close.  Some now are owned by businesses.  Some are converted to mosques.

For many, the response to these closures is shock, dismay.  For those wondering why, the answer is often the apparent decline of faith in these countries.  But few are as quick to point to another cause:  population decline.

For years now, European countries have faced dwindling birth rates.  On average, it takes at least 2.1 births per woman for most industrialized countries.  In many European countries the birth rate is well below this—1.6.  Put it bluntly, the churches are declining because there aren’t enough people to fill them.  Couple this fact with a decline in faith, biblical worldview, evangelism efforts, affluence etc. and you have a real and fundamental problem.

In the United States, we face a similar problem.  Post WWII, the birth rate peaked at 3.8 per woman.  It’s no surprise that the Boomer Generation numbers nearly 80 million people.  On the other hand, the following years produced a smaller birth rate which now hovers around 2.1.  It’s no surprise that Gen X, the generation following the Boomers, numbers only 69 million people.

As the Boomers head to their retirement years in the next 15 years, their giving will drop.  They’ll be replaced by a much smaller generation that must not only pay the Social Security of the Boomers but must also take their place for giving.

It can’t be done.  There are just less of them.  We are likely heading for a giving crisis in our churches.  One day, we’ll wake up and like Europe and wonder what happened to our fine buildings.  There is hope, but we must address the issues now with renewed efforts in evangelism, discipleship and cultivation of a new generation of givers.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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