Friday, November 14, 2008

Good Read: "A Lot of Lattés"

I came across this interesting observation,
Overheard countless times in the last two months: “I am concerned about the poor performance of my investments and savings.”

Not heard even one time in the last two decades: “I am concerned about my poor performance in laying up treasure in heaven.”
On a similar note, I borrowed a recent edition of Books & Culture from a friend and read this interesting review entitled "A Lot of Lattés." In it, Ron Sider reviews Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money.
Chapter 1 hits the reader like a ton of bricks, spelling out in detail what American Christians could accomplish if they would tithe. If just the "committed Christians" (defined as those who attend church at least a few times a month or profess to be "strong" or "very strong" Christians) would tithe, there would be an extra 46 billion dollars a year available for kingdom work. To make that figure more concrete, the authors suggest dozens of different things that $46 billion would fund each year: for example, 150,000 new indigenous missionaries; 50,000 additional theological students in the developing world; 5 million more micro loans to poor entrepreneurs; the food, clothing and shelter for all 6,500,000 current refugees in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; all the money for a global campaign to prevent and treat malaria; resources to sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide. Their conclusion is surely right: "Reasonably generous financial giving of ordinary American Christians would generate staggering amounts of money that could literally change the world."
Two more paragraphs worth quoting...
Chapter 2 outlines the dismal reality of what American Christians actually give. Twenty percent of American Christians (19 percent of Protestants; 28 percent of Catholics) give nothing to the church. Among Protestants, 10 percent of evangelicals, 28 percent of mainline folk, 33 percent of fundamentalists, and 40 percent of liberal Protestants give nothing. The vast majority of American Christians give very little—the mean average is 2.9 percent. Only 12 percent of Protestants and 4 percent of Catholics tithe.

A small minority of American Christians give most of the total donated. Twenty percent of all Christians give 86.4 percent of the total. The most generous five percent give well over half (59.6 percent) of all contributions. But higher-income American Christians give less as a percentage of household income than poorer American Christians. In the course of the 20th century, as our personal disposable income quadrupled, the percentage donated by American Christians actually declined.
Are we willing to do anything about this?

Read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've been reading Dan Edelen. His blog was the first Christian blog I started reading. I was looking for info on Keith Green, and I stumbled across his blog, then I went onto Challies who them led me to Monergism where then I downloaded Piper's TULIP tapes. And then, you know the rest of the story!

"Catholics tithe"
Hmmm...I'm not sure if that is accurate. Even if it is just 4%. I know that in Argentina, the RCC receives financial support from the state (perhaps the way the German Lutheran church gets money from the state?). Honestly, I never come across a catholic who says he tithes to the RCC. Peruvian catholics tithe? I'll have to find out more on that. My first guess is that they don't. But if they want to baptize their child, have first communion, confirmation, marriage and mass for their dead, they should pay the respective fees. On top of that, the RCC is tax-exempt. But even counting all that, I don't know how the RCC gets by. Maybe the state pumps her some money?


John said...

Francisco, I think I probably agree with your analysis of Peruvian roman catholics. This book looks at trends especially among American Christians.

I think that this amount of giving from American Christians would be even lower if they didn't get certain tax benefits from the government.

rich said...

Preachers should be unafraid to preach the authoritative Word on this topic, properly binding their flock's consciences.