Friday, December 1, 2017

Where does my LDS Tithing Money Go?

It's that time of year again, tithing settlement, when all church members are asked to meet with their Bishop and declare themselves as full tithe payers or not. I always wondered, where does my tithing money go? So I decided to do some research and answer that question as best as I can.

It has been decades since the LDS Church has opened up their books to the public, so instead I'm using information based on membership numbers and any disclosed amounts that the church spends. Church statistical numbers come from the April 2017 Statistical Report.

Total Church Membership 15, 882,417
Stakes 3,266
Missions 421
Districts 556
Wards and Branches 30,304
Full-time missionaries 70,946
Church-service missionaries 33,695
New Temples: 6
Temples in Operation: 155

Because the total church membership includes inactive members, we will assume a 25% tithe paying rate, or 3,970,604 tithe paying members.


The Church donates an average of $40 million per year in humanitarian aid (citation). Critics point out that the Church includes an hourly rate for hours of time donated in volunteer work in this figure as well, but we will not be including that in our estimate. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $10.07 to humanitarian aid. 


New Temple Costs: The Philadelphia Temple, dedicated in 2016, cost 77.5 million dollars (citation).  While temple costs vary based on location, this is a good estimate for all temples built in 2016, as the Provo City Center was also dedicated then which is estimated to be much more expensive. Six new temples for the year is approximately 465 million dollars. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $117.11 to the building of temples.

It is estimated that temples cost approximately $500,000 per year to maintain and operate. With 155 temples in operation, that equates to $77,500,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $19.52 to the maintenance and operation of temples.


According to the Deseret News, General Authorities receive a living stipend of $120,000 per year, as of 2014. While that number has most likely increased due to inflation, we will use that number in our estimates.

Apostles: 15 
Presidency of the Seventy: 7 
General Authority Seventies: 88 
Presiding Bishopric: 3 
Sunday School General Presidency: 3 
Young Men's General Presidency: 3 
***Note, we do not need to count any of the women serving in presidencies because they are not paid
Main Leadership Total: 119 
Approximate stipend: $120,000 per year 
Total yearly stipends for the main leadership: $14,280,000
Emeritus General Authorities still receive a stipend and do so for the remainder of their lives. There are currently 59 Emeritus General Authorities which totals $7,080,000

It is unknown whether the other Quorums of the Seventy receive a stipend. I like to assume that they do since they perform the same amount and level of work. There are 285 other members of the Quorums of the Seventy which equates to $34,200,000

The total amount of stipends equals $55,560,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $13.99 to General Authority Stipends. 

NOTES: There are 418 Mission Presidents and 157 Temple Presidents and their councilors who receive reimbursement for all living expenses, including furniture, clothing, food, travel for themselves and family members, housing, cars, insurance, and more. These 889 individuals are not included in the total, however, their stipend would be worth an approximate 90,000 per year which would total a yearly expense of $80,010,000, bringing the total yearly amount of stipend payments to $135,570,000. Each tithe paying member would have then contributed approximately an additional $20.15 to Mission President and Temple President reimbursements. 


The LDS Church has approximately 29,000 individuals on its payroll in Utah (citation). This number DOES NOT include employees of the for-profit ventures, or employees outside of Utah. The annual mean wage in Utah is $45,490 (citation). This puts the payroll somewhere in the range of 1,319,210,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $332.24 to the Church Employee payroll. 


Ward budgets are determined by sacrament meeting attendance and key age demographics (citation). An average US ward has a total budget of approximately $5,000, some having far more, and some having far less. Outside of the US there are wards with far more and far less, depending on local economic indicators so we will let the $5,000 stand as a fair estimate. With 30,304 ward and branches this puts the total somewhere near 151,520,000. Each tithe paying member contributed approximately $38.16 to ward budgets. 

We are not including an estimate of Stake budgets as they vary a far greater amount based on properties owned or assigned to stakes for maintenance and operations.


Where does my tithing money go? This chart is a great reference. The most surprising element to me is how little of my personal money goes towards Humanitarian aid. It's always been very easy for me to assume that my tithes were going to charity, or at least a large portion was. This research has helped me realize that I need to be sure to fulfill my Christian obligation to donating to the poor and needy with additional charitable contributions of my time and money. "Because I have been given much I too must give."

Analysis indicates the LDS Church takes in somewhere around $7billion per year in tithing funds (citation). We can use this number to create a pie chart with our previous estimates.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Utah Mormons Need the Church Too!

I sat by myself in Relief Society for my first two Sundays in Utah. I didn't understand why people weren't more friendly and welcoming. After a month we finally cornered the Bishop at church to let him know we had moved into the ward. It still took another 2 weeks, and a few gentle reminders, before they read our names over the pulpit to welcome us to the congregation. 

Utah has not been welcoming to us. A handful of neighbors have introduced themselves, and then some proceeded to tell us about the families that lived in the houses surrounding us. Sure enough they pointed out which houses contained inactives or nonmembers. Some even went so far as to tell us the alleged reasons why the families were inactive. 

The Bishopric came to our home to get to know us. Before leaving they asked the traditional, "Is there anything we can do for you?" Instead of replying with the traditional (and expected), "no, we're great!" I was brave and told them that the ward hasn't been very welcoming and we were having a hard time getting to know people. The response I got could be summarized as, "That's just the way Utah is." 

It wasn't just a one time response. When there were only a handful of women at my first Relief Society activity, the Relief Society President explained that it was just the way Utah is. Several sisters supported her in the idea. They said that being surrounded by LDS people on a daily basis you just don't feel the same need to get together like you do outside of Utah. 

It didn't sit right with me. I pondered on it for several days. The New Testament and Doctrine and Covenants both describe Saints gathering together and the importance thereof. The modern design of the Church encourages Saints to gather together to uplift one another through service, lessons, and activities. So why is it that these Utah Saints don't feel the need to get together? Does the sheer number of Saints lead them to take Church programs for granted? 

I need Relief Society. It doesn't matter how many LDS or non-LDS people I associate with on a daily basis. I need a periodic gathering of my fellow sisters in the Gospel. I need a time and event set apart from my day-to-day life where I can go and be edified and uplifted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I am sad for my Utah sisters who feel that they do not need these things in their life. I am sad for my Utah sisters who have lost the vision of Relief Society. I am sad for the members of my congregation who have been left ignored and unfriended like myself. I am sad for the people who have been driven away due to the lack of acceptance and welcoming from others. I am sad for my neighbors who are inactive or not members that carry a scarlet letter for it. 

This is not the Utah I want to live in.

It wasn't just this one ward either. We've been in other wards in Utah. Some more welcoming than others, but none who embrace the programs of the Church like they do outside of "The Mormon Belt." You know, the wards where you feel like you are a family. 

I revel in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love it, I crave it, and I cling to it. Jesus has said "if ye are not one ye are not mine." I believe in visiting teaching. The real kind where you love, lift, and serve women and do your best to take care of them as the Lord would. I believe in Relief Society, an organization that I can utilize to bolster my faith, strengthen my home and family, and provide service to others. I believe in a ward family where I anyone can go and feel love and accepted exactly as they are with no expectations of immediate perfection or exemplary faith. I believe in Gospel that creates unity among people where saints and sinners are one and the same. 

This is the Utah I want. This is the Church I want. 

Where do you even begin to make that kind of change? The only thing I can do is to be the change I wish to see and call on others to do the same. 

Do you feel outcast by your ward? Do you feel as though you don't fit in? Do you crave something more from the Church? 

Be the change. It will make a difference to someone. It would make a difference to me. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What to do when friends or family leave the Church...

Tell them they are wrong.

Argue with them.

Shun them.

Avoid them.

Don't let my kids play with theirs.

Belittle them.

Turn them into a project.

Love them.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

"We Need Women" General Conference Printable

I don't know about you, but I loved President Nelson's talk from General Conference last weekend. He talked about the kind of women that the world needs. I made this printable so I could hang it on my mirror like a positive affirmation to read each day. This is the kind of woman I want to be.

Click HERE for the PDF were you can print this for yourself!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How To Actually Repent: The 12 Steps of Repentance

Repentance is re-aligning yourself with God.

Sometimes we look at repentance as simply wiping out a sin. A quick "I'm sorry" to God will do. But repentance can be so much more than that. Repentance is using our agency to align ourselves with God. Because we are flawed mortal beings we need constant re-alignment. The repentance process is less about a quick "I'm sorry" to God and more about seeking to better ourselves on our eternal quest to seek after God. 

One of the most important things we can do in our lives is to learn how to truly repent and teach it to others. True repentance is powerful. It provides any willing heart the power to access the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and truly change for the better. 

I hope you will indulge me as I share what I have come to know as the 12 steps to repentance, based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program as well as the LDS version in the Addiction Recovery Program. As you will see, these steps apply to every individual who seeks to reconcile themselves with God and align their lives to His will.

Step 1: Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless and imperfect.

This step involves humbling ourselves and admitting that we have numerous flaws and imperfections that keep us from God. This isn't about any specific sin or circumstance, but rather a general humbling where we are willing to figure out where we are weak and where we need improvement.

Step 2: Come to know that the power of God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ can change you and restore you to complete spiritual health.

Study the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Learn about His mission, His life, and His ability to help you heal and change you. You can't have faith in something you don't know about. Sometimes we need to renew our knowledge and faith.

I love this quote from Elder James E. Faust because it teaches us that no matter where you are in your knowledge and testimony of the Atonement, there is still more to learn.
"My reason for wanting to learn all I can about the Atonement is partly selfish: Our salvation depends on believing in and accepting the Atonement. 1Such acceptance requires a continual effort to understand it more fully. The Atonement advances our mortal course of learning by making it possible for our natures to become perfect. All of us have sinned and need to repent to fully pay our part of the debt. When we sincerely repent, the Savior’s magnificent Atonement pays the rest of that debt. Any increase in our understanding of His atoning sacrifice draws us closer to Him. Literally, the Atonement means to be “at one” with Him." 
               - James E Faust Nov 2001 “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope”)
Step 3: Decide to turn your will over to God and His son, Jesus Christ. 

This sounds so simple, and yet it is so hard to actually put into action. It takes a conscious effort to makes the changes needed in our lives to truly repent and align ourselves with God. This is your moment to make that conscious effort and truly ready yourself to turn your will over to God. As you repeat these steps over and over in your life this step will have more and deeper meaning as each time you more fully give your will to God. Our agency is the only thing that is truly ours. To give that back to God is the greatest gift we can give. 

Step 4: Make an inventory of the things in your life that are keeping you from God. 

Here is where you list out your sins and shortcomings. I like to think of this as cleaning out your attic. When you first start there are a bunch of boxes and dirt up in your attic. So, you organize them, get rid of some stuff, and sweep the floor, and feel proud of all you've accomplished. As you repeat the steps of repentance over and over you keep coming back to the attic and seeing there is more you can do. With each cleaning you see more you can get rid of and more you can clean. Even once it is empty you find that, as with all attics, dust and cobwebs accumulate and must be swept out and taken care of on a regular basis. As we repeat the steps of repentance over and over in our lives we will one day end up with a sparkling clean attic that we've spent a lifetime cleaning. This is much better than simply accumulating a lifetime's worth of junk up there. We will use this attic analogy in some of the other steps. 

Step 5: Admit to Heavenly Father the exact nature of your wrongs. 

This is the moment where you humbly kneel before your maker and confess all those things from your inventory. If necessary, you also confess those sins to someone else like appropriate Priesthood Authority. Priesthood Authority is necessary when a sin is so serious that guidance is needed to work through the issue. Think of this as a box in the attic that is too heavy to carry alone. 

Step 6: Become ready to have God remove your weaknesses.

Once again, this is easier said than done. There are a lot of weaknesses, sins, and shortcomings in our life that we like to hold on to. Are you really ready to let them go? Think about those boxes in the attic. Even though we know the boxes are doing us no good in there, it can still be hard to get rid of them. This is entirely a mental exercise, but a necessary to step that can take some time. As we repeat these steps we can see the improvements in our life that have come from giving up these weaknesses and it can become easier to let go of the weaknesses we carry with us. 

Step 7: Ask God to remove your weaknesses and make up for your shortcomings.

We've already found in Step 1 that we are nothing compared to God. No matter how hard we try, we all fall short of the glory of God. We need his help. A humble prayer of supplication for God's help in our lives is all that is necessary here, but it can be a powerful moment in our lives as we connect with our Father in Heaven. 

Step 8: Make a list of people you have harmed, or steps you need to take to reconcile yourself.

Just like our inventory in Step 4, it's time to make a list of the people we've harmed. Perhaps you have harmed no one and simply need to take corrective measures in your life. It's time to list them out and figure out exactly where you need to go from here. If you've been gossiping about someone, the person you've gossiped about should be on the list as well as all those you've told the gossip to. If you've been neglecting personal scripture study this would be the time where you list out a plan of action to make daily scripture study a part of your life. 

Step 9: Make restitution to those you have harmed or take action to correct your wrongs. 

Now is the time to take that list from Step 8 and do something about it. This is where you get to right your wrongs and take the necessary steps to improve your life and re-align yourself with God. This step requires complete humility. You cannot repent without this step. This is where you change and strive to be better.

Step 10: Continue to take inventory of your life, and when you are wrong promptly admit it. 

Repentance is a constant process in our lives. These steps should be repeated continually. If we want forward progression on our eternal journey then we better start walking. These steps propel us forward. 

Step 11: Seek through prayer to know the will of God for your life and to have the power to carry it out. 

If we want to align ourselves with God then we need to stay in contact with him. At this point, you've cleaned up some of the problems in your life. You are closer to the spirit and have your eye on God. Now is the time to ask Him how He wants you to move forward and what He wants you to do in life. Keep in contact.  

Step 12: Bear witness of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

This step is special. I believe it is a requirement of true repentance. After experiencing true change in our life and seeing the power of the Atonement in action, we need to share it with others. This step is perhaps the easiest of them all. After experiencing such power in your life, it is nearly impossible to keep it to yourself. You will find yourself naturally testifying of the Savior and His miraculous ability to save.