Skip to comments.How Liberal Churches Profit Outrageously By Driving Away Members
Posted on 06/27/2014 1:55:53 PM PDT by dangus
The most frustrating thing for Christians watching the self-destruction of liberal denominations may be that the liberals don't seem to learn. The more liberal they become, the faster they shrink, and the faster they shrink, the more liberal they become. You'd think self-preservation would force a change.
You'd be wrong.
Financially, mainline churches don't function like businesses, but rather inheritances. And that's a big problem. Businesses get wealthier as they gain customers or members. Inheritances get wealthier as siblings die. Hang with me here that sounds like an amazing accusation, that churches grow wealthy as their congregations die off, but let's look at some numbers:
Consider the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA, not the tiny, but growing PCA). In the last two years alone, the PCUSA shrank by 10%. And the membership losses are incredibly increasing even as there are fewer and fewer people to lose! At this rate, in 20 years, the last person will quit the PCUSA. And it's actually worse than that: the number of enrollees in continuing adult education programs is down 24% in just three years.
Businesses expect that their size is related to their finances: a growing business acquires new assets and those assets are called "profit." A shrinking business sells off assets as "loss." The real problem with shrinking is that employees have to find other lines of work, and retirement plans often function as Ponzi schemes. So we expect that a shrinking denomination may have less money but not even be poorer on a per-capital basis. It's shocking, therefore to imagine that shrinking denominations can be outrageously profitable.
But the PCUSA actually made about $300 million in profit last year, and that profit margin just keeps expanding. Yes, their declining membership resulted in $42 million less revenue. But it also resulted in $128 million less spending. So the "non-profit organization's" profits grew by about $85 million.
How is this possible?
Families with kids demand their children be educated in the faith. That costs money. Adults demand services of their own, including adult education programs. That costs money. Active parishioners expect a certain amount of outreach and charitable programs, calculating in their minds that the church ought to be able to do an amount of service proportional to their attendance. That costs money. When the children are grown, when the adults shuffle off to convalescence, when there are no more volunteers for the food drives or thrift shops, those expenses disappear.
However, as the adults shuffle off to convalescence, their giving increases. While many older people struggle to make ends meet, they are off-set by other older people who have the highest incomes of any demographic, and by far the lowest costs. And of course, when childless couples die, they leave their inheritances to the churches that made them feel good about childlessness.
This may sound conspiratorial or scandal-mongering, but the facts don't lie. The liberal denominations are getting far wealthier, and that money is being divided by far fewer people.
This isn't to say that liberals are saying, "Great! Our attendance is down 10%! We're going to be rich!" But here's the thing: Some parishes and dioceses and denominations are working hard to keep ministering and spreading the Christian message. And they're constantly scraping by to raise money for that expanded parking lot, or to build a larger sanctuary, or to acquire new classrooms for their education programs.
Other parishes and dioceses are sighing in relief as those troublesome Christians head for the doors. And you know what, they feel really good about the work that the Society for Abolishing Soft Drinks does in the classroom space they rented out. And they love the fact that agnostics and nominal Christians use their big, empty churches for the six extra weddings they can hold in their sanctuaries because they're down to one mass per week. Now, they don't even have to pay to get a great organist, since the organist makes so much money on the weddings. And isn't it nice that someone else can use most of what used to be their parking lot rather than despoiling more acreage of greenspace? And when they don't even have to ask for money, they believe they are doing a great job. Yes, the statistics say that some churches in their denomination must be shrinking, but theirs is doing just excellently.
Even in Jesus’ day there was much difference between the Pharisees and the money lenders.
What those who came before you left to your church is NOT mammon; those riches are a sacrifice made to God. It is immoral to abandon those sacrifices to evil-doers; they are resources which are set aside to assist the spread of the gospel.
We need to be fed with the gospel, so I recognize that there comes a point when the liberalism is so intolerable as to become an obstacle to one’s own faith. But as long as you remain strong in your faith, keep the good fight! We mustn’t let liberals inherit all of the treasures given back to God.
PCUSA and others also haul in more money by extorting large sums from congregations congregations that leave the denomination to avoid costly legal battles over the ownership of church buildings and land.
Wie is das möglich?
Nur für Verrückte.
(Traktat vom Steppenwolf)
But as numbers wane so does power or influence, and churchmen don't want that.
This is true in the short run but eventually there will come a time when there won’t be any older folks leaving money to the church and buildings will get older. If anyone think liberals will give heavy to the church they better think again. They are the least giving of anyone.
My guess is that in about 20 years, if our Lord tarries, the PCUSA will find itself without members and without funds.
This is why our church refuses to establish an endowment fund and so live year to year on a “faith budget.” If we are doing what God wants us to do, He will make sure we have the money we need. If you start sinking your money into endowment funds, over time that money controls your church, and the pastors realize they can simply live on that money and no longer have to evangelize or carry out the Gospel.
My old church lost over 2/3 of its members over the gay issue, and yet it has enough money to operate into perpetuity, even though they may only get 20-30 people a Sunday. And remember, they also save money by not having to have things like ministry outreach, or children’s and youth programs. Nor is it a problem that they are only down to one minister. So the small number of non-Christians, primarily homosexuals, that have taken over the church can spend more money on promoting the homosexual agenda.
What the article misses is that the church was built by the hard work and the sacrifice of the faithful. The successors who have no belief in faith or sacrifice took the money and abandoned the faith part.
They then used the sacrifices of the previous faithful to support their easy comfortable lifestyle and their immoral leftist causes.
Those remaining faithful were ignored and basically told to leave.
Not unlike a Tontine! Had I been aware of that term, I would have used it (and explained it!)
Sadly, influence in modern-day America comes from money, not members. And besides, the conservatives who leave quit spreading their “dangerous” ideas around the congregation, so the church leaders’ own influence grows.
I tried to emphasize that in my first comment.
BRILLIANT move on your new church. I’m a Catholic, so there’s no chance of changing the fiscal policy, but I do hope to someday participate in the founding of a college, and we plan to make self-sustaining a high priority for that reason.
Good story. My UM church sits on one of the busiest corners in town and the property is valued at about $2M.
If the UMC votes to go gay like the PCUSA, TEC, and ELCA have already done the membership of our church will drop below the level required to keep the doors open because, although the Conference “owns” the property and the pastor(s) “work” for the Conference, the local church pays all the bills and there is no mechanism in place to help a struggling church stay open.
So, the Leftists drive the people away. We can’t afford the pastor anymore. (Note, the Conference does everything they can to discourage cheaper Licensed Local Pastors from being licensed, so we have to go with the expensive “union” clergy) Then, we close and all the property reverts to the Conference.
So, when we ask the Leftists why they are destroying our church or if they even care and they say that their politics of “inclusion” are more important than the local church.
They can say that because the Conference will reap huge windfalls as these local churches closes up and the property reverts to Conference. In some cases, they may even sell it to the congregation that left and formed a new church. Imagine that...having to buy the property that you and your parents and your grandparents built over the decades from a Conference that ran you off just so they could ordain Sodomites in a church with no more people.
The Left is positively controlled by Satan. Every time I talk to a Progressive Methodist about the future of the denomination, I can almost smell the sulphur.
Most of the not-for-profit charitable entities simply have to have a charter which agrees that at the demise of the organization, all remaining assets will be contributed to another qualified entity. Thus, watch these liberals drive off everyone down to a “board of directors”, then sell the real estate and contribute the proceeds to “homosexuals for Jesus”.
>>What the article misses is that the church was built by the hard work and the sacrifice of the faithful. The successors who have no belief in faith or sacrifice took the money and abandoned the faith part.
>>They then used the sacrifices of the previous faithful to support their easy comfortable lifestyle and their immoral leftist causes.
>>Those remaining faithful were ignored and basically told to leave.
That is their plan to end Christianity in America. As people flee their churches, the Left will eventually say “No one seems interested in being a Christian anymore. Why do we still consider it to be a viable religion?”
I’m reminded of the story of the Three Little Pigs.
In its annual summary, The United Methodist Church called 2013, “a year of growth, progress.” Never mind that the organization is losing members; it’s gaining cash. And so they’re happy. How can anyone question that they are prioritizing cash over salvation when they are happy that they are growing as they are losing members?
>>In its annual summary, The United Methodist Church called 2013, a year of growth, progress. Never mind that the organization is losing members; its gaining cash. And so theyre happy. How can anyone question that they are prioritizing cash over salvation when they are happy that they are growing as they are losing members?
Yep. At FL Annual Conference this year, they were happy that we had more money, but lost 7000 Methodists last year. When I made my report to my church, I pointed out that that’s almost 70 of our church that is gone forever from the UMC. That’s just Florida!
In FL, we also closed 6 churches this year and opened 0. They spun that as strengthening the ones that remained. I doubt those people left their dying church to go to another UMC.
The Presbyterian church I was baptized in (First Presbyterian Church of Coral Gables, FL) was closed due to declining membership. They were fully endowed, and the endowment was transfected to the “Mother” church. That’s how its done.
I don’t actually envision an end of the organization, because I don’t think they’ll want to quit their jobs! If the denomination has a $10 billion treasure trove, the leaders can make millions a year just on a small fraction of the investment dividends, and fund an army of Satanic “do-gooders.”
This is why endowments are a moral hazard. They make your organization (not just churches, but any member-based group) a target for Leftists who want to seize the endowment. This is what happened to the universities.
NEVER have an endowment. Make the organization have to live on donations from the membership. This will drive away the Leftist locusts.
The DC church has attached the principal of their sustaining "Soper Trust," the remains of a huge inheritance from a mega-wealthy benefactor, to keep the National Cathedral open.
They have spitefully squandered millions in legal expenses to seize real estate from parishes voting to leave the denomination. These buildings are old and costly to maintain, and have few if any parishioners left, so they mostly are sold off to secular enterprises.
But these stopgaps will not last forever--trust funds run dry when used for current operations--they will run out of captured real estate to sell, and the church itself is demographically doomed-- they are old and getting older.
There are more people attending NFL games on a Fall Sunday than all the Episcopal churches in the country put together.
The Episcopal Church will NEVER go bankrupt in America. It is fabulously wealthy. With a membership only 1/30th that of the Catholic Church, it owns more land than the Catholic church! With a budget of $146 million, it need not ever collect another penny, but could live on annuities until some great economic collapse of the planet.
Maybe the presbyteries or the international organization are making money but the local churches are definitely losing money.
Not if they shrewdly invest and their money keeps growing..
Some years from now, if they keep shrinking, perhaps the few remaining could somehow alter the bylaws to disperse to themselves all the remaining money.
I remember hearing an interview with Parker Williamson of the Presbyterian Lay Committee. He viewed what he was doing, fighting a loosing fight in the PCUSA, as, at least partially, a matter of fiduciary responsibility.