Church Attendance Down, Pastors Poorer: Study

Giving is up, going is down, and getting remains the same. Those are the results of a survey of church offerings, attendance and pastors’ salaries that the Barna Research Group says indicates that while there is widespread interest in “spirituality” across the country, it has not yet fueled the nationwide revival anticipated by many leaders.

In their yearly tracking of Protestant churches, the Barna researchers contacted 604 senior pastors and found that the annual operating budgets of churches rose by 5 percent, to an average $110,000, from 1998 to 1999. Median adult attendance at church services this year was 90–five less than the previous 12 months’ average. Pastoral compensation–including salary, housing allowance and other benefits–remained essentially unchanged, at a median $35,195.

President of the Ventura, Calif.,-based group, George Barna, said that Protestant churches had lost 10 percent in average weekly attendance since 1992, while the population has grown by 9 percent. Although giving since 1992 had increased more than the cumulative inflation, pastoral compensation had not kept pace with the cost of living, he said. “In effect, pastors are earning about 12 percent less today, in real dollars, then they were at the beginning of the decade.”

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