Tithe Giving and Offerings Climb [ MAIN STORY ]
never cease to marvel that God, with all the angels at His command, has chosen us, sinful human beings, to tell the world of His love for us and of the plan of redemption,” General Conference treasurer Robert E. Lemon said in his opening remarks of the treasury report at the 2007 Spring Meeting.
Lemon, delivered an overview of the church's finances on April 11, announced worldwide tithe was up 10 percent in 2006, and NAD tithe up by 3 percent, compared to the previous year. This was in spite of only 52 Sabbaths last year compared to 53 in 2005. The 2006 total tithe came in at more than US$1.6 billion; total tithe in 2005 was almost $1.5 billion.
The amount designated for the GC World Budget in 2006 was $83.7 million, up 5.7 percent from 2005, Lemon said.
It Costs to Operate
GC undertreasurer Steven G. Rose in a visual presentation detailed the 2006 world church operating expenses—which total almost $171 million:
- Appropriations to divisions and GC institutions—44 percent
- GC headquarters operating expense—21 percent
- IDE (interdivision employees/missionaries) funding—12 percent
- GC administered funds for various church programs and services—21 percent
- Other—2 percent
“Total expenses for 2005 were $166 million,” Rose said, “which shows an increase of $5 million for 2006.”
Mission Giving—A Shift in Trend
Mission offerings are also on the increase, a turnaround from the declining mission giving during the last half-century, Lemon noted.
“Local offerings from divisions other than North America increased from 23 percent of tithe in 1950 to 36 percent in 2005,” Lemon said. “Mission offerings during that same period, however, declined from 36 percent of tithe to less than 4 percent.”
Lemon reported that the years 2002 to 2006 showed a world mission giving increase of 33 percent—from $24.1 million to $32.3 million—in divisions other than North America. In the North American Division (NAD), the increase in 2005 was more than 4 percent, and about 6 percent in 2006, twice the percentage increase in tithe.
“A shift in trend is clear,” Lemon said.
Mission giving, however, has not kept pace with tithe. “If the percentage in mission offerings had kept pace with tithe since 1950, it would now be more than $525 million per year, compared to the $56 million [total world mission offering] we had in 2006,” Lemon explained. “We would not be facing challenges in providing non-tithe funds for the needs of the church and would be able to expand the work in a marked way within the 10/40 window territories.”
Lemon then emphasized a need to direct a larger portion of the World Budget—currently less than 7 percent of total tithes and offerings—toward entering regions of the world where there are few Adventists, especially the 10/40 window territories.
“These are not easy areas in which to present the gospel,” Lemon said. “They are areas with very few Christians, areas with world religions that come with a very different worldview than do the historically Christian countries.”
He added that nontraditional evangelistic methods should be employed, and that interdivision missionaries can often be most effective in training others who come from similar cultures.
“Some look at the number of interdivision employees and say our mission program has declined over the years,” Lemon said. “But the church’s mission program has never been stronger than it is today. We have thousands and thousands of missionaries—not necessarily on IDE budgets—serving in all parts of the world. . . . We must look at ways to support and encourage all our missionaries.”