Archives For Giving

PassingthePlateYesterday, I posted Christian Smith and Michael O. Emerson’s conclusions about why Americans don’t give.

Now, here are six facts they discovered in their research about American giving.

  1. At least one out of five American Christians – 20% of all U.S. Christians –give literally nothing to church, para-church, or nonreligious charities.
  2. The vast majority of American Christians give very little to church, para-church, or nonreligious charities.
  3. American Christians do not give their dollars evenly among themselves, but, rather, a small minority of generous givers among them contributes most of the total Christian dollars given.
  4. Higher income Christians – like Americans generally – give little to no more money as a percentage of household income than lower income earning Christians.
  5. Despite a massive growth of real per capital income over the 20th century, the average percentage share of income given by American Christians not only did not grow in proportion but actually declined slightly during this time period.
  6. The vast majority of the money that American Christians do give to religion is spent in and for their own local communities of faith – little is spent on missions, development, and poverty relief outside of local congregations, particularly outside the United States, in ways that benefit people other than the givers themselves.

See also:

Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money

Christian Smith on Why Americans Give So Little Financially

Don’t Store Up Treasure on Earth: John R.W. Stott on What Jesus Doesn’t and Does Mean


Christian Smith, who coined the term “moralistic therapeutic deism,” is one of the foremost sociologists in the world. In a book he wrote with Michael Emerson and Patricia Snell, Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money, Smith summarized why Americans give so little. He breaks his conclusions down into six points (p. 175-179):

  1. Materialistic consumption has become a nearly inescapable way of life in the United States . . . The first and perhaps most formidable rival to generous voluntary giving of American Christians, then, aiding and abetting any of their natural human tendencies toward selfishness and stinginess, is America’s institutionalized mass consumerism.
  2. A lot of pastors appear to be uncomfortable with the issue of money in their churches . . . Many are also afraid of being branded by the money-grubbing stereotype. The net result seems to us to be a lot of pastors out there who have made peace with low expectations, tolerance for chronic paltry giving by many of their members, and the use of money collection procedures oriented as much to minimize problems and conflicts as to effectively build their churches and the spiritual faithfulness of their members.
  3. More than a few American Christians seem to be at least somewhat uninformed or confused about the meanings, expectations, and purposes of faithful Christian financial giving. . . a lack of clarity among American Christians about the expectations for giving by their faith traditions and church leaders.
  4. Some Christians mistrust organizations to which they would give money. . . The good of financial responsibility, when tainted by distrust, thus comes to serve the bad of miserly giving.
  5. No Americans seem to talk with anyone else about the question of voluntary financial giving . . . The de facto practice is: every person for themselves. And that does little to facilitate generous financial giving.
  6. Many American Christians appear to avoid adopting systematic, routinized methods for carrying out their financial giving. Instead, they want to give in an unplanned, situational, almost impulsive manner.

“Put all these factors together and we may conclude it is a wonder that American Christians give away as much money as they do. As best we can tell, numerous powerful cultural, organizational, interpersonal, and institutional influences work together against generous financial giving. In the face of these dynamics, it would seem to require the truly highly committed, deeply involved, well-taught, very organized, culturally critical, and confidently led Christian to faithfully give away, say, 10 percent of his or her income. Such Christians do exist in American churches. But they are a distinct minority. And so, the actual financial giving of American Christians as a whole turns out to be . . . [ungenerous].” (page 179)

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture)

Screenshot 2015-09-30 17.04.16

John Piper:

Tonight a ticket will be chosen worth over half a billion dollars. Lottery agents in New York were selling 1.3 million Mega Millions tickets per hour Thursday.

Officials were expecting to sell about 1.2 billion tickets total before the drawing.

“Americans spend about $60 billion on the lottery every year,” says Stephen Dubner, co-author of “Freakonomics.” “More than $500 per American household goes to playing the lottery.” (CBS This Morning)

There are at least seven reasons you should not gamble with your money in this way — and should tell your congressmen not to support it.

Read the rest here.

Should Christians tithe?

Chris —  February 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

Andy Naselli summarizes an answer to this question from theologian Thomas Schreiner.

Click through to the Resurgence if you can’t see the video.

In this clip from his interview with Pastor Mark Driscoll, bestselling author Randy Alcorn talks about how so many Christians are missing out on joy by not being generous with their time and finances.

For more from Randy Alcorn on money and giving, check out these books:

See all the parts of this interview posted so far.