According to the Religion News Network, donations to American churches totaled $124.52 billion in 2018. This reflected a 1.5% decline from the previous year (3.9% when adjusted for inflation).
Last year Americans spent $75.38 billion on their pets. The report from the American Pet Products Association stated the amount increased 3.8% from 2018 (fortune.com).
Ponder these figures for a few moments.
Money spent in the United States on dogs, cats, parrots, gerbils and other assorted critters totaled 60% of the donations to churches, synagogues, mosques, and other assorted religions.
I love my dog, Sam, who epitomizes unconditional love. I have often pointed out that “God” spelled backwards is “dog.”
Average United Methodists give less than 2.5% of their annual income to the church.
Maybe it’s time we made giving to God our pet project.
The Pew Research Center recently published an exhaustive review of 49,719 online sermons. The study found the median length of a homily was 37 minutes; however, the time varied based on tradition. Mainline Protestant sermons averaged 25 minutes while evangelical Protestants lasted 39 minutes. Historically black Protestant churches topped the list at 54 minutes.
Based on the results, I am a below average preacher!
My sermons typically last 18 to 22 minutes. However, some congregants have assured me that they SEEM to last much longer. That’s a compliment, right?
Seminary professors and clergy mentors attempted to teach me the art of proclaiming the gospel. However, my father gave me the best advice of all. He looked me solemnly in the eye and said, “Remember, son, the mind can absorb only what the bottom can endure!”
Wise words from a wise man.
I take solace in the fact that many of Jesus’ recorded parables and sermons were quite short. With the exception of “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Sermon on the Plain,” the Lord delivered most of his messages with an economy of words.
Based on Jesus’ example, I am content to be a below average preacher.