Inflation, Parsonages, & Apathy
Inflation and higher prices at the gas pump are effecting churches across the country. Charlie Houck loves serving as lead pastor at Mesa Church in San Diego. Just as much, he’s a fan of the parsonage that came with the building when Mesa launched in October 2020. And pastors often deal with churchgoers with strong opinions, but they’re much more concerned about the people in their congregations who don’t seem to care much at all.
Inflation and higher prices at the gas pump are effecting churches across the country.
In the blighted South Dallas community Cornerstone Baptist Church serves, inflation has led some members to choose between keeping gas in their tanks or driving to church.
“Giving is down, because people now have to decide whether they’re going to give or get gas to get to church,” Cornerstone Senior Pastor Chris Simmons said.
In the more affluent Riverside, Calif., the national inflation rate of 8.5 percent is challenging attendees at Orangecrest Community Church to sacrifice to support the construction project the church launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
“Prioritizing Christ’s mission comes at a cost,” senior pastor Josh De La Rosa told Baptist Press. “Because of inflation, our building costs went up by 11 percent. Giving is slightly behind last year’s giving to date. We’re about 0.5 percent behind last year’s giving, after quarter one.
On average, an 8.5 percent inflation rate means the dollar is worth nearly 9 cents less than a year ago, according to David Spikarr, chief investment officer of GuideStone Financial Resources.
Charlie Houck loves serving as lead pastor at Mesa Church in San Diego. Just as much, he’s a fan of the parsonage that came with the building when Mesa launched in October 2020.
“We love it,” he said. “My family couldn’t afford rent in this city, let alone a home purchase.”
A historic housing boom has seen U.S. home prices jump 34.4 percent and 19.8 percent over the last year, according to Fortune magazine. In San Diego, Houck and other prospective buyers must contend with an average home value of $969,595. Rent for 700 square feet that includes one bedroom, one bath will run you $2,700 a month.
All of it has brought a renewed appreciation to the parsonage.
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Pastors often deal with churchgoers with strong opinions, but they’re much more concerned about the people in their congregations who don’t seem to care much at all.
In the final release from Lifeway Research’s 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study, most pastors say the primary “people dynamics” challenge they face in their churches is apathy or lack of commitment.
“Many people can be a member of a church, but not participate in the work of the church,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Pastors see the potential of mobilizing everyone in the church to minister to others in the church and in their community.”
Find more stories at BaptistPress.com.
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