The following is a list of a few popular Christian charities and how they spend their money. By the way, the administrative category would include all staff salaries.
Angel Tree Prison Ministries:
Programs: 67% Fund Raising: 20% Administrative: 13%
Programs: 82% Fund Raising: 10% Administrative: 8%
Programs: 79% Fund Raising: 14% Administrative: 7%
Programs: 84% Fund Raising: 1% Administrative: 15%
Programs: 89% Fund Raising: 6% Administrative: 5%
Looks pretty good right? Most of these organizations spend the majority of their budgets on helping people. Some obviously do a little better job than others, but all are doing a great job.
With that in mind, consider the following:
A recent survey conducted by "Christianity Today", found that the average church spends less than 20% of its total budget on ministry that directly assists others. The survey was based on the responses of almost 1200 churches of various denominations. The overwhelmingly largest portion of these churches' budgets went towards paying the salaries of their staff with the pastors' salaries comprising most of that category.
In fact over 70% of most churches' budgets are allocated to cover staff "compensation" and facilities costs. Typically, most charities spend between 5 and 13% of their total expenditure on salaries.
Throw in supplies, denominational "fees", and the all-important "other" category and you will burn up another 12 to 15 percent of the total budget.
What's left over? Not much.
I find that to be….disturbing. Actually, shouldn't we all find that a little bit disturbing?
Would we be quite so "charitable" to any other organization knowing full well that so little of what we give goes to actually helping others? I don't think so.
I can hear it now, "Ken it's different with church. That money goes to provide for the needs of our pastor and staff!" Well, I can assure you that were it the CEO of any charity out there receiving almost half the total budget as a salary, there would be an uproar of monumental proportions. Yet, for some strange reason we are more than willing to embrace such a mindset within the body of Christ. Why? Because that's what "church" is. That's how it works! You give the money, you trust the "leaders" to allocate the dough correctly, and all is well.
Here's a thought: Maybe "church" and how we "do" it…needs an overhaul!
Maybe we need to "rethink" what it means to be salt and light in the world and how that is actually "fleshed out" in the lives of those around us.
By the way, please don't say it's all about reaching "the lost" for Christ. We all know that the research proves that the majority of new church membership comes from "the sheep" shifting pens! It does not come from new conversions. That is an illusion.
In closing, I would like to say that I do know of a church and a pastor in the Dalton area that is truly managing God's money in a God honoring way. This particular church uses almost 100% of its budget to help people. This pastor takes nothing and wants nothing in the way of compensation. He works just like the rest of us. How can he do that? The "members" of that church understand what it really means to be the body of Christ. You know, more than 20% doing the work!
Hey, there's that number again….strange!
By the way, if your church is doing better, God bless ya!
At the end of the day, we can all "do better", but that will only happen when we get real about who we are and what we're doing, or not doing…me included!