Elephant in the room

Barna’s latest report showing the most recent American patterns in tithing and donating was just released. The following portion of the report is something that caught my attention.

Whether they believe in the principle of tithing or not, few Americans give away that much money. In 2007, the research revealed that just 5% of adults tithed.

Not surprisingly, some population groups were more likely than others to have given away at least ten percent of their income. Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24% of whom tithed); conservatives (12%); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12%); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11%); and registered Republicans (10%).

The biggest percentage among Americans who tithed or gave away 10% or more of their income are Evangelicals at 24%. My question, what are the other 76% doing? According to other statistics they are somewhere down around 2 or 3% in their giving. Granted its hard to make a case for tithing from the New Testament and I’m not wanting to establish some new form of Old Covenant legalism, or pour old wine into new wineskins, but this issue is like the elephant who is in the room everyone is pretending it doesn’t exist.

I know there is no mention of tithing in the New Testament, but all examples of giving and financial stewardship go far beyond the tithe; like the Widow and her two coppers coins, the Rich Young Ruler, the Macedonian Christians giving to the Jerusalem saints, and Zacchaeus to mention a few. And Jesus was all continually was about raising the standard to a higher level of the Old Covenant.

The “elephant” is metaphoric for the 76% of Evangelicals who are dominated by the “god of mammon.” The issue that most want to pretend doesn’t exist, and if it does, its certainly a matter of personal choice – to give or not to give. But every time a survey or statical report documenting the generosity of the church or the lack thereof surfaces, we all at least subconsciously ponder our own responsibility. IMHO, the bottom line point of giving for a follower of Jesus is at the 10% mark.

More later…


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