Nationwide church offerings on decline, but not in East Texas

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – A new survey shows nearly 40 percent of churches nationwide, have experienced a decline in offerings in 2009.

This research comes from the 2nd annual by Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International.

Churches around the country are seeing a painful decline in church offerings, mega-churches and those out West were reportedly hit the hardest.

However, local places of worship say they really haven't seen much of a change.

"January and February of this year, we were up close to $50,000 above the same period last year," said Church Administrator for Harmony Hill Baptist Church, Jim Myers.

Myers added, "We feel really blessed and we're amazed sometimes that we continue to grow in finances."

He says their annual collections haven't increased at as high a rate as previous years, but believes their financial stability is a result of devoted church members.

"Those that are here do give more because we know that there are those that are out of work and can't give right now" said Myers.

Lead Pastor at Carpenter's Way Baptist Church, Mark Wilke says newcomers have also helped spark a slight increase in tithing.

"As we've had new folks in, they've often picked up where others maybe couldn't be consistent" said Wilke.

Even when times are hard, he says people try to give back.

"We've seen a little bit of an increase this year in that we've been doing some reconstruction projects around here, a new student wing, a new children's department, and we raised additional money that we needed for that on one Sunday," said Wilke.

These pastors all believe their church families understand that trusting in God, means trusting him with your wallet, not just your heart.

"They're not concerned about what may happen. They're just relying on the Lord day by day," said Jeff Robinson, Senior Pastor of Southside Baptist Church.

"We can not out give God. He gives to us more than we give to him," said Myers.

They say throughout pain and suffering, giving back is just part of faith.

Many Lufkin pastors say while they haven't seen a decrease in offerings, they have seen several members relocate or leave temporarily to look for work, as a result of the economy.

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