In nine denominations, foreign mission spending averaged 7¢ of each Total Contributions dollar, according to an analysis in empty tomb’s State of Church Giving series using 1924-1925 data.
Those nine denominations spent an average of 2¢ of each Total Contributions dollar on international mission by 2003.
In 2018, a larger set of 29 denominations included in The State of Church Giving through 2018 also averaged 2¢ spending on international missions out of each dollar of Total Contributions received.
This decline occurred even though U.S. per capita income was 481% higher in 2018 compared to the 1925 base, after taxes and after inflation, according to empty tomb’s analysis.
As seen in the accompanying table, only 1% of U.S. households had electricity in 1920. By 2017, 100% of U.S. households had access to electricity, with 87% having air conditioning.
In 1920, only 1% of U.S. households had indoor plumbing. By 2018, less than 1% did not have indoor plumbing.
Americans were richer and had more comforts in 2018 than in the 1920s. However, in 2018, churches were spending a smaller, not larger, part of the contributions they received to share God’s love through Jesus to the rest of the world. Even as support for a global vision declined in churches, shown by their spending on international missions, an empty tomb analysis of available data finds that church membership as a percent of US population and church giving as a percent of income were also declining.
Now, empty tomb’s Mission Match seeks 10 churches and three to 10 venture philanthropists to lead out in turning these declines around.
The two parts of empty tomb’s Mission Match strategy described below both have the goal of mobilizing churches in the U.S. to help, in Jesus’ name, stop 1.2 million annual deaths in children under five by the year 2025.
Experts indicate that these children are dying from treatable causes, as discussed in The State of Church Giving through 2018. Churches continue to have frontline delivery systems in many areas of need. Mission Match is focused on the 40 countries that were behind the curve in meeting target reduction goals for their Under-5 Mortality Rates as of the year 2015.
One part of the strategy to help these children live is for 10 congregations to apply for matching contributions at missionmatch.org. The congregation’s project will be designed to target one of the 22 treatable causes of death in these children in one of the 40 countries. The congregations also propose the delivery channel through which they want to work, in Jesus’ name, to help prevent these deaths.
Congregations can apply for up to $3,000 for their project. Once approved, the congregation raises, from those within their local church, at least an equal amount, and then the congregation spends the combined money on the project named in their application.
The other part of the strategy is to get Mission Match “on steroids.” This goal is to locate venture philanthropists who understand that the negative trends found in empty tomb’s research not only have an impact on global mission support, including 1.2 million deaths in children under five, but on the level of social good in the U.S. as well. Three to 10 venture philanthropists can provide the initial $9.412 billion to roll out Mission Match on a nationwide scale in 2021.
There are over 300,000 Christian congregations in the U.S. When $8 billion of this venture philanthropists’ initial donation is matched by congregations for their projects, the estimated $16 billion needed annually to stop the 1.2 million child deaths will be available. By 2025, supported by an increasingly broad base providing the matching funds, the goal is to assist all 40 countries in being at target reduction goal rates for their Under-5 Mortality Rates.
Congregations can apply for matching funds at missionmatch.org.
Interested venture philanthropists can contact empty tomb directly.
The State of Church Giving through 2018: What If Jesus Comes Back in 2025? (30th edition, Dec. 2020), is available at Wipf and Stock Publishers.
The 1924-25 and 2003 figures for overseas missions giving: The State of Church Giving through 2003 (15th edition, 2005); p. 59.
Households in 1920 electricity and plumbing: James, D. Lutz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; “Lest We Forget, a Short History of Housing in the United States“; American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE); 2004; p. 2 of 11/15/2020 3:04 PM printout.
U.S. households with access to electricity: Index Mundi; “United States – Access to electricity (% of population)“; p. 1 of 5/29/2021 printout.
Percent of U.S. households with air conditioning: U.S. Energy Information Administration; “Today in Energy: One in Four U.S. Homes is All Electric“; 5/1/2019; p. 2 of 5/29/2021 printout.
empty tomb analysis of 2018 Housing units without plumbing from data in: U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2018; accessed 5/29/2021.
empty tomb, inc.
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