Inflation forcing hard choices upon churches and Christian organizations in Europe

   Cologne Cathedral, Germany (© Raimond Spekking /
   CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Faced with increasing demands for financial donations in a context of rising inflation, Christians in Europe are being forced to make choices, just as consumers must prioritize their spending, but the consequences are not being felt in the same way everywhere, notes journalist David Nadaud in an article for the evangelical magazine of the French-speaking world, Christianisme Aujourd’hui (May). In interviews with leaders of evangelical churches and organizations in French-speaking Europe, Nadaud found unease about the financial picture. The leader of a communion of evangelical churches explained that while there was no noticeable decrease in financial support for the denomination’s churches in 2020–21, despite the pandemic, there was a noticeable decrease in 2022. In Switzerland, several evangelical churches reported a decrease in income, although this may be due to the fact that a number of churches have not recovered the level of participation in church services they had prior to the pandemic. In the case of NGOs and evangelical Christian organizations in Switzerland, there has been no significant decrease in donations, and in some cases there has even been an increase. In the case of organizations that have registered a decrease, this may be explained by a strong response to immediate crises (Ukraine, etc.) to the detriment of long-term actions, even if concerns about inflation may also have played a role. But the increase in financial demands also appears to have an impact, forcing potential donors to sort and prioritize.

Across Europe, religious groups are watching out for the consequences of successive events that could potentially impact the donations of their congregations—first the pandemic, then inflation and rising energy costs. In Germany, an analysis published by an economic research center, the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (April 8), notes that the 2022 increase in the income of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany—whose resources come largely from church taxes—is misleading because it was accompanied by a record number of people leaving the churches (1.3 million in 2022). Moreover, inflation is eroding purchasing power and incomes will decline as the population ages. In France, according to a press kit released in December 2022 by the Conference of Catholic Bishops, church revenues were 527 million euros in 2019, fell to 489 million in 2020 due to Covid, but in 2021 surpassed the 2019 level to reach 537 million. However, soaring energy prices (heating, electricity) and inflation are expected to lead to a sharp increase in expenses, which donations are already not enough to cover, since only real estate income, real estate sales and bequests made up for a 139 million euro gap between expenses and resources in 2021.

(Christianisme Aujourd’hui,;
Report of the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft,