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March 21, 2010


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I'm sorry but this is self-serving non-sense that is trying to guilt people into giving more.

Americans are the #1 givers on Earth.

@Johnson: I don't agree. These are simply the facts of today's givers. God loves you know more if you give more. Each of us needs to make our own decision on giving. Imagine if the average Christian gave the full tithe! What amazing things we could do for God's kingdom.

It is truly better to give than to receive!

The money given to the church goes mainly to run the church. Cost of utilities, upkeep, repairs, remodels, ect. AND the Priest/Ministers salary. I know because my grandmother is a Minister. If after these costs are covered, there is some leftover, then they do charity works in the community. Currently, small churches in rural communities are suffering. Lower giving and smaller congregation numbers are the cause. If you go to a big wealthy church, great! Get involved, find out where your donations go, be part of commitees that organize charity events. If you go to one of the small, poorer churches, ask youself do you like the church? Do you want it to continue being available for you and your community? And again, get involved. Find out where the money goes, if there are shortfalls each year, and help them by direct donation or with fundraisers to get the cash they need to stay open. In the 8 years my grandmother has been preaching they have closed down 1 of the 7 churches she has been at. That may seem insignificant, but you can bet it was a blow to the people of the community where the church closed.

"Average Christian gives 30% less than the average churchgoer in 1933 during the Great Depression."

Seems oddly worded. Sometimes you change a word because repetition is bad writing, but when reporting statistics one should be precise.

The set of all Christians is not the same as the set of all churchgoers. There is some overlap, but there are some non-Christian churchgoers, and a heckuva lot more non-churchgoing Christians.

Furthermore, everyone assumes that when the economy goes bad, people tighten their belts and give less to charity. People who study that issue, however, have discovered that it's not exactly true:

My guess is that there's nothing like seeing people you know in bread lines to convince you to do without a little so you can give a little more.

Further, during the Great Depression, there was MUCH LESS economic assistance to the poor through the taxpayer/government programs, so OF COURSE people would give more during something like the Great Depression.

I say all of this as a non-Christian who has no real motivation to defend today's Christians against the Christians of the last century. I just dislike shady statistics.

I find these statistics sad, but not shocking. I am a tithing Christian and have been for the better part of 10 years. Before we moved out of CA, I was on staff and was regularly involved with the budgeting process at a church of close to 1200 people. At our new small church, I am one of the accountants, so I know where the money goes. Yes, a lot of the money goes to the organizational costs of running a church, but I find it sad that at both churches the pastoral staff work 50-60 hours a week and make far less than the average congregant. The pastors made a conscious decision to take smaller salaries in order to provide the largest amount of care for the community and do the best with the money they have been given. This was true at a church where people made 150k+ per year, and at a church where families average 50k per year.

I think people forget that the primary purpose of a pastor is to provide for the spiritual needs of their flock and much of this is done in confidence. I have spoken to many people who feel that "the church" isn't doing enough tangible work so they won't give to the church. But really, would you feel safe at a church where the pastor blabs about counseling John and Sue through their marital issues, or helping Bob and Lisa with their mortgage payments since the lay-off? Sometimes the tangible work of the church can't be make public.

I believe that we should be cheerful givers, but sometimes cheerfulness comes with the knowledge that it is all God's to begin with... and isn't it sweet that God is allowing us to keep 90% of our money.

Something I'm thinking about creating a blog post on...

Could it be because we have more entitlements than ever? More entitlements and more taxes could equal less giving. If this is true, the new HC bill is not a good sign of things to come. To put it simply, people are looking at their taxes as a form of "giving".

Please. I don't believe for a second that people think taxes are covering everyone's need. People don't give because they're selfish. End of story. Those are pretty pathetic stats about Christians' giving habits.

Maybe they've woken up and see that organized religion is THE biggest money making scam in history?!

certainly there is a case to be made for organized religion as a money making scam, but it seems odd to suggest that this would shape the giving patterns of Christians. After all, they are the ones who don't think its a scam. Anyway, if you think the institutional church is bunk, there are lots of other places to give money to organizations that do good work that aren't the church, but would still qualify for charitable giving. I try to balance my giving between the institutional church and other organizations that are more focused on social justice.

I dunno...pretty much every Christian adult I personally know (including myself) lives at or below the poverty level. (ie, makes UNDER $10,000 a year)
Maybe there's a reason we can't give a ton. But what we CAN give, we do.

"Giving under grace should be higher than giving under the law."

I think that's a good change in perspective.

Many Christians ask where tithes should be based - gross or net income?

But I hear some preachers saying - "It depends where you want God to base your blessings!"

Thanks for this insightful post.


I give time. I don't think charity should be defined monetarily. I also have no idea how to define my Christianity since I haven't been into a church since my wedding and that was non-denominational. Organized religious organizations seem hinky to me.

I truly doubt that God cares how much actual money anyone gives...wouldn't he care more about what kind of person you are and how you treat those you interact with?

Whether you give 0% or 100% of your money away doesn't actually mean anything about you personally's why you give it away that counts. Giving because you feel guilty isn't the same as giving out of selflessness.

I donate mostly of my time. I provide professional services for free for my church and several community groups in addition to providing manual labor when needed for almost all events. In addition I donate most of the used stuff I no longer need to local charities. Rarely do I open my checkbook to provide a cash donation though, and this is due to the cynic in me who sees our current government tax system as forced doantion.

I have previously seen charitable giving measured by a person's itemization of that on their schedule A. Probably the only way to measure it over a large population, but this is flawed in one respect. I am a licensed engineer and when charging a customer I bill out at over $125 an hour; when providing this same service as charity, the IRS allows me to bill my time out (report it on tax forms) at the rate of $0.00 per hour. Most of the work I provide is free, but I do charge a minimum if my E&O insurance will be covering the work.

As for the governemnt regulated giving. I don't assume the full 20% I pay in taxes as giving, some of that goes to non-entitilement related salaries and spending (infrastructue, security, etc) but a significant part of it goes to cover programs that provide much of what was provided by churches and other charities in the past. I have personally witnessed government entitlement programs reducing participation in church functions.

Example: A couple of parishioners were recipients of funds from our parish's community housing fund. These parishoners were active in the church and were willling to give of their time anytime help was needed. Eventually they let the administration know that the assistance was no longer needed, and not long after they stopped showing up for services or events. When asked, they admitted that they oly were showing up becuase they felt they owed the curch for the help. They were now qualified for government assistance on their housing that was in far excess of what the church was providing.

This may sound cold and hearltess, but this has become more and more of a guiding philosophy in much of my local community. What was a thriving spiritual community has seen 7 out of 10 local churches closed and with the exception of a handful of parishoners, the community could care less for the reported reason of "The church is no longer needed, the government can now better provide for the people..."

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