Church Growth and the Tithe

Sobering facts and figures for our individual study

By CLAUDE CONARD, Statistical Secretary of the General Conference

In an active church body such as the Seventh-day Adventist, which does not practice infant baptism, it is reasonable to expect that the membership growth will be in fair proportion to the number of baptisms each year. During the thirteen-year period beginning with 1931, the average yearly baptisms in the North American field numbered 11,641. But the average yearly in­crease in church membership over the same period was 6,196. Thus for every Ioo persons baptized during these years, the church increase was ac­tually only 53 members.

In the year 1943 alone the recorded baptisms were 10,704 as compared with this thirteen-year average of 11,641. The membership increase of 3,896 was 2,300 below the period's norm of church growth, or 37 percent. The net gain in church membership in 1943 for every leo persons bap­tized was only 36, which is the lowest record of any year but one since the year 1928.

In the Seventh-day Adventist Church the rite of baptism is performed almost wholly by the or­dained ministers of the denomination. Although church workers of every class and lay members as well help in preparing candidates for church asso­ciation, upon the ordained minister has been spe­cifically laid the solemn responsibility of nurturing and maturing the seeker for truth, and leading him into full church fellowship.

To a limited extent, at least, it would seem then that a basis of comparison of church advancement from year to year might be discovered in the re­lationship between the number of baptisms and the count of ordained ministers in any given sec­tion, recognizing at all times that there is a va­riety of conditions difficult to determine which favor or retard the fruitful results of ministerial service. Whatever the effect of such contributing factors may be, the ratio of workers to baptisms is worthy of note.

By comparing the strength of the ministerial force in the United States and Canada with the number of baptisms performed from the beginning of 1931 to the end of 1943, we find that if each laborer in active service were considered, the en­tire group would have baptized an average of around eleven (10.7) members a year for each ordained minister in the North American field.

In 1943 alone the aggregate number of baptisms for each Seventh-day Adventist ordained minister was actually eight persons.

The tabulation which follows shows numerically the relations between baptisms and church mem­bership in the United States and Canada, and be­tween baptisms and the number of ordained min­isters each year since 1931:

Baptisms, Membership Increase, and Ordained Ministers

(See PDF for Statistics)

Tithe and Number of Baptisms

The major portion of the tithe paid into the conferences in North America is used in the local fields for administrative and evangelistic purposes. It would not seem unreasonable to anticipate that during times when there are abundant advances in tithe income there would also be a more or less proportionate growth in church memberships. That the experience of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in recent years has not fully followed this pattern warrants careful attention.

For the thirteen-year period ending with 1943 the average of baptisms as compared to tithe in the United States and Canada was one baptism for each $448 of tithe receipts in the conferences. In 1933 alone, with a tithe of $2,715,869.67, there were 12,711 baptisms in the North American field, or a ratio of one baptism for each $214 in tithe. In 1943 the tithe was $11,978,811.97-more than five times what it was in 1933-but the 10,704 bap­tisms in 1943 were fewer than in 1933. There was one baptism in 1943 for each $1,119 of tithe. The tabulation following shows the tithe relation­ship to baptisms each year from 1931 to 1943:

Relationship of Tithe and Baptisms

(See PDF for statistics)

A further important comparison is made of tithe receipts with church membership growth. Dur­ing the years from 1933 to 3943 inclusive the av­erage annual net increase in membership was one member for every $842 tithe. In 1933 alone, when the tithe was the least for any year in this thir­teen-year period and the membership increase one of the largest, the relationship was one member of church growth for each $339 of tithe received.

In 1943, while the annual receipt of tithe was the highest ever recorded in the United States and Canada, the church membership gains were less than usual, and the ratio was one member of increase for $3,075 tithe, or a relationship of tithe for each unit of membership growth of more than nine times that of 1933.

The accompanying tabulation gives the average tithe receipts each year from 1931 to 1943 for each member of church growth.

Relationship of Tithe to Membership Increase

(See PDF for statistics)

The relationships between tithe receipts and baptisms and church increases may have more than passing interest. The wide differences be­tween these factors in the several years offers a distinct challenge to determine how fuller returns in baptisms and membership growths can be se­cured from the greater inflows of the tithes of God's people. The material prosperity of the church calls for increasing earnestness in the proc­lamation of the gospel of salvation to everyone who will hear. For the accomplishment of this purpose the Lord has promised His richest bless­ing on the faithful efforts of those who have been entrusted with this sacred task.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

By CLAUDE CONARD, Statistical Secretary of the General Conference

March 1945

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

A Well-Balanced Mind

The perils of fanaticism as illustrated in World War I.

"The Epistle of Publius Lentulus"

Are any versions of the "Report of Pontius Pilate to Tiberius" that are in circulation genuine, or are they forgeries?

Freedom of Air Jeopardized

Radio evangelism in action.

A Changing Protestantism

The departure of Protestants from Protestantism.

How Good Is Your Memory?

Practical pointers for preachers.

Hints for Amateur Choir Directors

The monthly music column.

Advertising the Evangelistic Campaign

The illusive secret of successful advertising, which is so much sought after, is well worth studying.

Let Us Arise and Finish It

The Advent message to all the world in this generation.

Prevention of Church Fires

How to protect yourselves.

The Press Helps Evangelists

How announcements in the form of news stories have greatly helped ministers.

How Do You Advertise?

It is quite thrilling when we come to a beauti­ful Seventh-day Adventist church and find a neat sign in front.

Editorial Keynotes

An Effective Method of Illustrating Truth

Editorial Keynotes

An Effective Method of Illustrating Truth

Progressive Charting of the 2300 Days

To make the message live as it is being pre­sented is the constant problem of the Advent­ist evangelist. We need, as never before, ef­fective aids in illustrating the message.

Unite Visiting With Preaching

Preaching reaches the few who attend the services, but does not reach the multitudes. How are we to awaken them from the lethargy that infolds them? It is through per­sonal work after contact has been made in the homes.

Fallacies in the Use of Vitamins

Vegetables, fruits, whole-grain cereals, ‘and nuts, prepared in a simple, appetizing manner, make, with milk or cream, the most healthful die­tary, and one which will bountifully supply all the essentials for complete nutrition.

Helping the Helpless

A personal account.

Serving at the Bedside

To those who may never have been sick, I would like to emphasize the mental and spiritual at­titude of the sick person.

The Art of Organized Study

How the life of study can aid the ministry.

Dispensationalism and the Scofield Bible

Few of us realize how widespread the errors of modern dispensationalism have become in recent years.

Ministry of Flowers in Church Services

Flowers have their established place in the garden, home, and sickroom. Shouldn't they have a place in the church?

Editorial Postscripts

From the Ministry back page.

Regarding Other Denominations

Our monthly Bible Instructor column.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - NAD Stewardship (160x600)