30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

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On Own Now
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30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by On Own Now » 13 Dec 2016, 08:54

I live in an area where wards and stakes have been redone recently, and there is a shortage of buildings (this is not Utah). A big deal was made here that the Church has a 30-minute rule, meaning that they can send you to any ward that is within a 30-minute drive of your home without the need to build a new building and also that stakes don't own buildings, the Church does, so having wards from different stakes that meet is the same building is OK and does not require a new building.

It was just a very interesting emphasis in an area obviously in need of buildings.

It makes me wonder if this is being driven by reduced Church per capita income. 20 years ago, the Church would have simply built more. It got me thinking about the possible reasons for reduced budget:

- The Church did away with ward budgets about 30 years ago? The idea at the time was that tithing was sufficient to cover it all.

- Lots of people have left and are leaving. I bet most wards in the US (and probably in other first world nations) can point to some family who has left the Church lately. If not whole families then certainly a lot of previous full-tithe payers.

- I have the sense that there are lots who stay, as most of us do, but who aren't all-in. I think the percentages are higher than in the past. I don't have anything to back it up except anecdotal evidence, but it sure seems that way. I went to tithing settlement; first one in a long time, because our bishop is new and I wanted him to hear it from me, rather than making my wife answer for my disaffection. Our bishop is not just new, he's brand new... less than a month on the job. We discussed how my wife still pays tithing but I don't. He said that's not all that uncommon and there are even cases where one spouse refuses to let the other pay, so he was appreciative of my willingness in that regard. What was interesting was to note that he's already had multiple experiences with this kind of thing, even though he's only half-way through TS in his first go-round, having never served in a bishopric before.

- The Church's primary form of growth in the US is in children rising to adulthood and having more children. Yet, I think we all sense that the Church is losing Millennials at a high rate.

- Family sizes are going way down. It seems much less common for LDS families (in the US) to have more than three children. Three is the new five. Fewer kids grow up to become adults and have families of their own, and those who do are having fewer kids that the previous generations.

- Income reality is probably pushing a lot of faithful people who used to be 10%-Gross full tithers to something less, especially among the single-income-large-family model. Although not through Church channels, I think the words is oozing out that 10% of Net or 10% of Increase are acceptable.
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Reuben
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by Reuben » 13 Dec 2016, 09:02

Other possibilities:

- The church wants to avoid Moyle-like development excesses, at least with tithing funds, so it's acting conservatively.

- It's just another way to cut costs, on principle.

- It's meant as a stop-gap while the church adjusts to having smaller units (which I've heard rumors of).
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SunbeltRed
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by SunbeltRed » 13 Dec 2016, 09:29

We have a similar situation where I live. Our city is one area where our Stake is growing the most, housing development is going gangbusters, and our large city is growing and expanding and with it increased employment opportunities.

Yet, there are a few buildings on the outskirts that qualify to be within the 30 minute range, but are pretty far away for everyone who lives right where the growth is highest, and despite multiple pleas from stake leadership, the church does not want to build a building.

When I took our area 70 around a year ago he talked about the increase cost of the missionary program, without yielding additional results, and that a lot of the money is being used to fund growth in other countries where baptismal rates are higher and the church is growing.

It is an interesting thing to consider, especially here in the South, where there are a lot of churches. People don't normally drive 30-40 minutes to church in more urban areas.

I have thought for a while that the church could probably grown in areas like mine if they built a church, but with a more YMCA style of platform. Have a church, but put in a local gym, have pre-school, use the premises for community events, integrate into the community. But alas, I don't think it will ever happen.

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nibbler
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by nibbler » 13 Dec 2016, 09:33

I heard rumors on the internets about 2 years ago where someone said that a friend told them that Elder Bednar said:
What you have come to believe the church is, will go away. The people who will struggle most with that will be the people in North America.
In reference to not always having a convenient building to meet in. The details were sketchy, it was a rumor after all.

Edit:
SunbeltRed wrote:When I took our area 70 around a year ago he talked about the increase cost of the missionary program, without yielding additional results, and that a lot of the money is being used to fund growth in other countries where baptismal rates are higher and the church is growing.
The Bednar rumor was accompanied by other rumors of the church spending more on buildings to accommodate growth in Africa.

The 30 minute rule makes sense but I hope they keep this in mind when it could take some people an hour one way to do HT/VT assignments.

Our area is strapped for buildings as well. The only time it gets to me are the cases where there's a church building a few miles away but your ward boundaries carry you clear across town.
On Own Now wrote:- Lots of people have left and are leaving. I bet most wards in the US (and probably in other first world nations) can point to some family who has left the Church lately. If not whole families then certainly a lot of previous full-tithe payers.
That creates an interesting problem. Our area is in need of a new building due to growth, which flies in the face of people leaving. Maybe they're looking ahead, using the youth retention stats and the smaller families stats to project out 20 or 30 years so they don't get into a scenario where they've built a new building that they will later struggle to fill?
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DarkJedi
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Dec 2016, 10:29

Just to be upfront, I live in an area where there is not a building shortage and buildings tend to be far apart. I drive 10 miles to my meetinghouse (which happens to be the stake center), but there are people in my ward who drive twice+ that far. The next closest meetinghouse in the direction of my ward is another 25 miles, the opposite direction of mine is 35 miles (25 for me). All the others are 60+ minutes away. We have 8 units in our stake and seven buildings, the YSA branch shares with one ward (and the ward complains that they have to alternate the schedule yearly).

That said, I also recall hearing similar rumors about what Elder Bednar allegedly said. It does make some sense, especially with the massive growth in Africa and continued growth in much of Central and South America. Those new branches, wards and stakes have to meet somewhere. According the the LDS Church Growth blog (http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/) 16 new stakes and six districts have been created in South and Central America this year (two stakes in my son's mission) and 19 stakes and 13 districts in Africa (I just counted them on the lists, I may be off one or two). That's a lot of wards and branches to house. Building and maintaining those facilities is expensive, even considering that construction costs are probably much lower in other parts of the world and their meeting houses don't appear quite as "fancy" as ours (from what I can tell). I have also heard the part about how we Americans, with our much higher relative incomes, subsidize much of the rest of the world.

And it's clear my own son's mission expenses do not total anywhere near his $400/month. It's also clear that none of his native companions pay $400/month (I think that whatever doesn't come from the big pot or the general missionary fund comes from tithing). Missions have a fairly large monthly budget for things like the president's housing, car, travel, office supplies, etc. - I'm not sure where that comes from, but I believe it's general tithing funds. So, it would appear that the increased number of missionaries and missions adds to the financial burden.

Then there's the temples. They're massively expensive to build and maintain. During those shut down periods, they replace lots of stuff - generally most carpeting, all light bulbs, etc. We have way more temples than we used to, and they are mostly underused (at least outside the Corridor). IMO it would have been cheaper to just send those Islanders who saved their whole life times to the temples already existing than to build and maintain new temples closer to them.

Many years ago when I was in the bishopric the bishop shared with us some stats that aren't "tracked." It's not hard to look at the ward list and look around on Sunday and see that our activity rate is around 35%. The one I remember being surprised at was that only about 15% of members are full tithe payers, and even fewer pay things like fast offerings. That may vary place to place, that was just our middle class ward at the time. But our incomes were also likely at that time much higher than our brothers and sisters in South America and Africa, so more income=more tithing, even if only 15% paid. Post fast transition I have shifted the amount I pay - I never paid on gross anyway, but now there's less other stuff I pay on (and I'm good with it).

We also cut all those ward custodians awhile back. I recall when each building had its own full time custodian and some bigger buildings had two. Then they went to the shared plan, then the no plan. Repairs seem to take much longer now as well - it took over a month with multiple people reporting to get a urinal fixed in our building. And speaking of those, they're not as nice and sparkly as they used to be (and I fully understand why, I don't take that assignment when it's our turn to clean).

I think all the factors mentioned here play in. I have wondered myself if the church has not reached a point where it's sort of just getting by (relative to the past few decades).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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mom3
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by mom3 » 13 Dec 2016, 11:00

Mini-rant here - The church is also spending monies in North America on buildings other than church buildings. They just opened one in Salt Lake, some high rise complex. Apartment's and city centers. I know we have discussed this ad nauseum about the need for or of a real estate branch. For me though when I hear the 30 min. rule then see a ribbon cutting for a non-church related creation - I rage.

I appreciate if North America had to give up some ease so that we could build meeting houses, or neighborhoods, or wells in other countries. I appreciate if we chose to fund extra programs for the developing countries. My nephew is serving in Russia. There is a great deal of humanitarian work that could use hands and money. But high rise buildings that Presiding Bishop calls "sacred ground" and thirty minute rules gets my goat.

Rant over. Taking a walk.
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nibbler
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by nibbler » 13 Dec 2016, 11:25

I had thought about that and the best I could figure is that they are using all the money they have today to build profit generating centers that will run the church of tomorrow. In other words they've had 7 years of plenty and are expecting 7 years of famine. Maybe they're thinking that tithing revenues in the US will continue to decrease and the real growth in the church will occur in places where they've traditionally spent more than they have taken in... or their priorities are completely out of whack. There's always that.
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DarkJedi
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Dec 2016, 12:36

mom3 wrote:Mini-rant here - The church is also spending monies in North America on buildings other than church buildings. They just opened one in Salt Lake, some high rise complex. Apartment's and city centers. I know we have discussed this ad nauseum about the need for or of a real estate branch. For me though when I hear the 30 min. rule then see a ribbon cutting for a non-church related creation - I rage.

I appreciate if North America had to give up some ease so that we could build meeting houses, or neighborhoods, or wells in other countries. I appreciate if we chose to fund extra programs for the developing countries. My nephew is serving in Russia. There is a great deal of humanitarian work that could use hands and money. But high rise buildings that Presiding Bishop calls "sacred ground" and thirty minute rules gets my goat.

Rant over. Taking a walk.
We've discussed this idea before, and I wholeheartedly agree with you that I would much rather the church drill wells in Africa and India than send dressed up people to doors telling them how much better we are than their church.

Two asides:
1. In our last stake council we were told about a new self reliance program coming out. (Just what the church needs, another program, right? :roll: ) Information about that is here: https://www.lds.org/topics/pef-self-rel ... s?lang=eng (The leader manual is the most informative). Anyway, I was talking to my RM son and telling him this was coming out giving some of the details and he was like "They've been using that pamphlet in Chile for years" etc. He was not aware of the councils, groups, and committees (again just what we need more of) but he essentially summarized that this is just putting all of those other things together in a program with meetings. It looks like he's right about that. As a side, side note, I'm wondering if the shift to a more service oriented society (and its associated lower pay) is partly driving this idea and perhaps is related to lower tithing just because people make less. All the converts in our ward this year are lower middle class at best (with one exception, and she's more middle middle).

2. It does bug me that the church builds malls and office towers, but I will say City Creek is very nice and parking is cheap and ample. I think it would surprise most members how many buildings, properties, and companies we really own. That said I do believe the leadership when they say this is a separate arm of the church and tithing is not intermixed. Pres. Hinckley briefly addressed this in 1991:
We have a few income-producing business properties, but the return from these would keep the Church going only for a very brief time.
I do think there are more than a "few" (perhaps compared to Donald Trump there are a few) but I also think they are managed separately and only that money is used for those endeavors. Of course, I do wonder where the initial seed money came from, but it looks like that was before my time and not my money. I also wonder why we don't use that income for other things like welfare programs (or maybe we do, we don't know). I suppose if it's needed for a reserve some rainy day I'll be happy it's there - but I don't expect we'll get to that point (as in the above mentioned Moyle years) again - but I do think there is some concern on the part of the at least some in the Q15 that it might happen again because some things are similar to what Moyle was doing.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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SamBee
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by SamBee » 25 Dec 2016, 06:33

In my country, the church has not dealt with rural areas well, it is a very urban church and the boundaries don't take into account realities especially public transport.
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Re: 30-minute rule... a sign of lowering income?

Post by SilentDawning » 25 Dec 2016, 18:00

The Church can't send me anywhere I don't want to go. Including my own Ward that is within 5 minutes of my house if they mismanage relationships, fail to make it safe from bullying, or other problems that make me unwilling to attend any ward at any time, at any location.

If they enforce their rules by withholding privileges, then they lose my volunteer labor and sometimes, even my financial support. It only weakens the church.

I think part of Staying LDS is found in recognizing you have a lot more control over your destiny than many would have you believe.
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