February 14, 2011
Evangelicals and Money: Stingy, Generous, or Just Right?
Eight voices weigh in on the generosity of American Christians.
Last week, we pointed to research data highlighted by our sister magazine Christianity Today regarding average tithing levels among Christians. This week, we point to a series of short quotes obtained by Christianity Today from a variety of evangelical voices based on this question: Are American evangelicals stingy with their giving?
Of the eight responses, here are two—one answering an emphatic "yes," the other an emphatic "no":
"For Christians in the richest nation in history to be giving only 2.43 percent of their income to their churches is not just stinginess, it is biblical disobedience—blatant sin. We have become so seduced by the pervasive consumerism and materialism of our culture that we hardly notice the ghastly disjunction between our incredible wealth and the agonizing poverty in the world. Over the last 40 years, American Christians (as we have grown progressively richer) have given a smaller and smaller percent of our growing income to the ministries of our churches. Such behavior flatly contradicts what the Bible teaches about God, justice, and wealth. We should be giving not 2.4 percent but 10 percent, 15 percent, even 25 to 35 percent or more to kingdom work. Most of us could give 20 percent and not be close to poverty."
—Ron Sider, author, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
"Barna Group's research shows evangelicals to be among the most generous Americans. While not immune from the bad economy, evangelicals still consistently give more of their income to more places than virtually any other demographic or faith group. Evangelicals also easily qualify as the nation's most consistent tithers. And those who tithe are simply much more resilient in their giving—and distinctly more generous—than others. The problem is that evangelical Christians are also quite rare: just one out of every 12 Americans holds the theological underpinnings of evangelical belief and commitment. (We define evangelicals not based upon denominational affiliation or a respondent's self-labeling as evangelical, but based on a basic battery of questions assessing a person's theological views.)"
—David Kinnaman, president, Barna Group