The Church of England is launching a radical review of its finances after warnings from dioceses that they could face bankruptcy - despite the fact that churchgoers are becoming more generous.
The news of the review comes at the same time as a new report Religious Trends No 4, 2003/4 published by Christian Research.
According to the report the average figure donated by church of England parishioners to the collection plate was around £16 a head per week in 2000. That is just short of the target of 5% of average earnings (about £17 per church member per week) held to be needed.
Declining attendences however are having a very significant impact.
The weekly giving per person at all English churches in 2000 was £12 out of an average attendance of 93 people on a Sunday. That's double the £6 a head a week given to the collection plate in 1990 out of an average Sunday congregation of 112 people.
Christian Research surveyed 1,100 churches of all denominations in England in proportion to their representation.
Total income rose by 39% between 1995 and 2000 and the average income per church was £57,000 in the millennium year.
A quarter of churches have annual incomes of between £50,000 and £100,000 in 2000. One seventh, or 15%, are drawing in an income of more than £100,000 - the group the average is £170,000 a year.
The difficulty that the Church of England is facing helps to explain the strength of the threat by some wealthy evangelical churches to withhold payments to diocesan funds if the gay theologian Jeffrey John were ordained as suffragan bishop of Reading.
Some dioceses have frozen recruitment and warned privately that they are in dire straits, though only London has so far admitted it may have to close churches. The review will consider the cost of bishops' palaces and amalgamating diocesan bureaucracies.