Churches across the world face the same dilemma when it comes to tithing. Pastors hate to talk about it, and church goers hate to hear it. That is, unless you approach it the right way and educate the believer on the Biblical principle of giving. Even so, there are many who do understand it, but think it’s an Old Testament practice that is no longer valid. Many church goers are just selfish in nature and cling to their income and as this article will point out, many of those who refuse to give, are also the biggest in debt. When God is the owner of our finances and we are mere stewards, perhaps it’s time to bring up the issue of tithing more regularly. Read these shocking statistics of tithing among U.S. Christians
In preparing for the launch of our new tithing product, Sharefaith Giving, we did a lot of research to understand the mindset of the church on the topic of giving. The tools we came up with combat the negative giving trend and place the power of donations right in the hand of the giver. Church goers can now give anywhere, anytime in seconds. Sharefaith Giving is committed to helping churches increase their donations and giving through cutting edge tools and education. What you will read below are some of the interesting findings of our research. We’ll start with the infographic and then a follow-up explanation on how you, as a church, can counter these trends.
You can download a high-resolution PDF of this info-graphic here: Shocking Stats of Tithing Amoung U.S. Christians.
According to recent Pew Study, approximately 247 million people in the US claim to be Christian. How many of that number go to church? That’s a different and more difficult number to uncover. At best, the pollsters say 40% of all Americans, or about 98 million go to church. At worst, other studies suggest 20%, or less than 50 million, actually attend and many as few as 12 times a year. However, when we analyze the attendance number, we know that, of those who do attend church, far fewer actually tithe any money.
It’s alarming that Christians now give less per capita than during the Great Depression. When we finally look at those in church, at best 25% of the congregation give.That’s at best. If you have that level of participation, you’re not in the norm, according to other research, which says only about 3-5% actually tithe in most cases. And, it’s not the wealthy who always tithe. The statistics suggest that if you make less than $20k, you’re eight times more likely to give than someone who makes more than $75k.
This research should give us pause. God says in Malachi 3:10, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’”
Why is tithing a challenge? In our research, a number of reasons surface. It may be as easy as a lack of regular attendance. But more likely, it is a change of expectation. “How will this affect me?” versus “How can I change the lives of someone else?” We need to ask ourselves if our church is keeping an outward focus, or are we only serving our own needs?
We also need to continue to teach our congregations that tithing is not commanded because God lacks any resources. Rather, God is all-sufficient always. The British chaplain and author of My Utmost for His Highest says that God wants us, he doesn’t need us. He invites us to participate in his mission. So why tithe? Money manager Dave Ramsey says, “Tithing was created for our benefit. It is to teach us how to keep God first in our lives and how to be unselfish people. Unselfish people make better husbands, wives, friends, relatives, employees and employers. God is trying to teach us how to prosper over time.”
If you’re struggling to motivate your congregation to give, there are pointers and trends that might help you plan for the future.
1. Encourage weekly attendance.
This weekly discipline provides a connection with the church that makes it far easier to be engaged in the financial health of the church.
2. Provide ongoing small group opportunities.
As with attendance, when involvement is rich and community is gained, supporting the church financially becomes more natural because it’s an outgrowth of faithfulness.
3. Giving Designations.
Colleges and universities do this well, tailoring a person’s interest with a giving area that might match up well. You certainly want to be cognizant of this if it’s not explicitly marked in a check box because, even through casual conversation, it can lead to identifying a member’s want to give with the church’s need.
4. Think about the difference between fundraising and teaching.
Showing what Scripture says about giving and simply asking for support are two different avenues. The first promotes discipline rooted in God’s word; the second serves only an immediate appeal. There may be times for outright support, and you may determine that this line is between the tithe and the giving beyond the tithe.
5. Have strong leadership and vision.
These are important when it comes to anything the church does, and especially with tithes and offerings. People want to know they are giving to a church that is active and living out the Gospel’s call to be light in a dark world. They want to be convicted and changed by Jesus’ power and they want to see this happen in their community. Be strong and courageous.
6. Know your community.
People give because their church is a community, because it can change the wider community and because it’s a place people know they can come when they are broken. What are the needs of your neighborhood and the street where your church is located? How can you breathe in life where there was once death?
7. Age matters.
Younger members may be more aware than your older ones about “targeting.” Here’s a good article for reference. Keep in mind that targeting and planning is more an internal staff conversation and less a congregational one. Another good point the above article offers is inclusion of young and old in positions of responsibility. Age also matters as it relates to when the discipline of tithing begins. In a study of 4,413 church goers, 63% started giving 10% or more between childhood and their twenties
8. Offer various payment methods.
According to the Financial Brand, 74% of Americans say they write no more than one check per month. Add to it that 61% of people under the age of 24 say they never write checks, and nearly 3 out of 5 donors age 66 and older make contributions via the web. Also, the forecast is that mobile web traffic to overtake PC by 2018, so being ready for online and mobile giving options is good planning.
9. Realize debt can be a hindrance.
People who tithe regularly typically have less debt than other demographics – 8 out of 10 have zero credit card debt and 28% are completely debt free, including not having a mortgage. (Health Research Funding) That certainly doesn’t suggest too much in terms of prosperity, but it may be a telling sign for responsible finances altogether.
10. Remember Scripture.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The word “give” is used more than 1,400 times in the Bible, relating to giving praise, wealth, oneself, among others. Tithe is specifically used 29 times. Don’t forget that these opportunities and commands to give and tithe are throughout Scripture and you are providing the occasion for your congregation to participate anew in the work of God.
You can share this infographic below with your pastor, congregation or on social media. Forget about all the Televangelists and their hocus-pocus karma, or the multi-million dollar building project that does nothing to feed the poor. Let’s just recognize that our income is not our own. That we are stewards, in at that, we need to give as much as possible, in as many places as possible. Even if we have little to give.