Tithing. Just write the word or use it in conversation, from the pulpit, or online and immediately people react—positively, negatively, even vehemently. While the word tithing is often a point of contention or confusion in the church world today, one thing is clear: millions of Christians give 10 percent or more to the Lord's work, even if they don't consider themselves "tithers."
Barna research estimates that 5 percent of Americans, and 12 percent of born-again Christians, donate 10 percent or more to religious causes. Though they represent only a small percentage of the overall population, these faithful givers are the financial backbone of every religious entity to which they give. In most cases, they contribute one-half to three-quarters of the revenue to their church, mission agency, and Christian non-profit organization. Without this group of faithful and generous givers, most churches and ministries would quickly be forced to close their doors.
Until recently, no in-depth research had ever been conducted to find out about the financial, giving, and spiritual practices of this consistently generous group. Now, after five years of State of the Plate research conducted by MAXIMUM Generosity (my ministry), along with Christianity Today, ECFA, and Evangelical Christian Credit Union, we have data that provides invaluable insights on the financial, giving, and spiritual practices of 4,412 people from all 50 states and more than 70 countries.
Here are some notable highlights from this research, which is presented in full in an executive report titled, "20 Truths about Tithers," available on ChurchLawAndTaxStore.com:
Those who give 10 percent or more started doing so at a young age—63 percent started giving 10 percent or more between childhood and their twenties.
The majority of people have large estates (including houses, possessions, investments/pensions, and life insurance policies), but only 25 percent have included their church in their will.
People that give 10 percent or more are better off financially than those Christians who don't. In every category we measured, faithful and generous giving led to greater financial health in people's lives.
People who give 10 percent or more have five different ways they give inside their local church (see chart on page 2).
What keeps non-tithing Christians from giving: 38 percent say they can't afford it, and 33 percent say they have too much debt.
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