Every year, summer comes around with its cookouts, lemonade, vacations, high electric bills, and lower numbers in church. It's a given you can pretty much plan on, the number of people coming to church on Sundays in the summer is lower than pretty much any other time in the year. Lower numbers means it can be harder to find the volunteers and attendees at meetings and events (people aren't there to hear the announcements). It also means that the amount of giving also goes down.
In the last few weeks I've spent some time looking at the giving here at Zion, and I want to share with you what I've found out. I think it's interesting and also challenging.
(All of these numbers are based on 2017)
Annually the members of Zion contribute $17,945 in the offering plate. That averages out to $345 per week. Our average attendance in 2017 was 27.91 so that means each person put $12.36 in the plate per week. Now, our attendance numbers include infants and children so that's not really accurate; and, there are individuals who contribute to the church, but are not able to join us for worship on Sunday.
Of the 49 households that are members at Zion, 23 actually contributed. Not even 50%! That's shocking! In Jefferson County the median household income is $42,327. If our 23 giving households contributed a tithe at that level the annual giving would be $97,352.10 (MUCH larger than our current giving of $17,945). Now, I fully realize that there are a large number of folks who don't make the median household income, and are on a fixed income. Did you know the average Social Security disbursement is $14,760 per person? If our 23 households (not all of whom are retired) gave a tithe at that level our annual income would be $33, 948 – almost twice our current income.
These numbers were surprising, so I dug a little deeper with our Treasurer, Jeff Knauff's help. Of our
23 giving households only 3 contributed at least a tithe at the Social Security disbursement level
($1476), and 6 contributed annually at half that ($738). Of those 9 households, only 3 are not of retirement age, which means 6 are.
I share with you these numbers for several reasons: First, looking purely at the numbers it appears that few of us are following through on the Biblical call to give ten percent of what we make to God. I'm sure all of us can do better. I fully realize that many of us are living paycheck to paycheck and we give financially as we are able; there are other ways to contribute. So, secondly, when was the last time you volunteered to prepare or serve a meal? When was the last time you called the church to ask if you could help out planting flowers, or cleaning the nursery? When was the last time you served as a lay reader, a greeter, an usher?
So I challenge you: Are you giving what you can? Either in acts of service or money? What would it look like if you did? Can you imagine what the church could do to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ if all of us gave what we could? (Whether it's Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring.)
With the Greatest of Hope!