Churches are still adjusting to big changes in the way Holston Conference manages income, health insurance, and pensions.
But in the first quarter after tithe-based apportionments were implemented, the conference treasurer estimates that apportionment income will be 16 percent higher than the amount received in 2010.
First-quarter results also reveal that 79 of Holston's 899 churches have paid zero apportionments in 2011 -- an improvement over 95 at the end of February, according to Treasurer John Tate.
Kingsport District is the only district in which 100 percent of its 57 churches have paid some or all of their apportionments. All but one of Morristown District's 108 churches have made some payment in 2011.
Knoxville District has the highest percentage of non-reporting churches. Eleven of Knoxville's 54 churches -- 20 percent -- have paid zero toward conference ministry in 2011.
Oak Ridge District has the second highest percentage of non-reporting churches. Eleven of Oak Ridge's 66 churches -- almost 17 percent -- haven't paid any of their apportionments. (See analysis chart.)
Easy to understand
"The new apportionment is easy to understand and for people to get their hands around," Tate said. "There are some success stories of churches that weren't previously able to pay because the old formula was too complicated to understand, seemed like an unrealistic amount to pay, or other reasons."
Tate said he arrived at the estimated 16 percent apportionment increase after adjusting for direct invoicing.
Direct invoicing, implemented in January, removed health insurance and pensions from the conference budget and instead gave those staff costs to local churches to pay.
Also implemented in January, the tithe-based apportionment requires local churches to give 10 percent of undesignated income each month to support the conference budget.
Although several churches are still not paying their apportionments, the new "10 percent apportionment" is doing "exactly what we expected it to do," Tate said. "It's leading churches to have difficult conversations about their financial viability.
"If a church can't give 10 percent of its income, then something is out of line," Tate said. "The same goes for my personal life. If I can't afford to tithe to my church, then maybe my house is too big, my car is too nice, or I have not been disciplined in my spending."
Tate estimates that at year's end, Holston will receive $9.9 to $10.4 million of its $10.4 million budget.
In 2010, Holston received 83.8 percent of total apportionments, representing a $2.4 million shortfall.