CAUTION: BOOM post
How much do you give to charity?
(That’s probably not something you want to answer. Don’t worry about it, just think about it. Here’s where you are going to have to be very brave to keep reading.)
I rarely write anything of this sort.
The statistical chances are that I’m talking to you as a “stingy non tither”, and you won’t like this post. I’m okay with that. I’m writing it anyway because I’ve just endured a rather unfortunate budget meeting, and I’ve now had my fill of an American original. A brand that pairs excessive abundance and skimpy giving. And, yes, I can taste the bile in my mouth, because it makes me sick.
The stats say most people give 2-3% of their income to charity.
Not a tithe, is it? Most people (and probably you) know that a tithe is 10%…an offering is treasure (time or talent or legal tender) given above the tithe percent amount.
A “gift” is what people give when the plate gets passed around. They plop a fiver in, or sometimes when they’re feeling particularly generous, they plop a twenty and a fiver on the top and think that somehow they aren’t stealing God’s money (b/c it’s all God’s money). Ya know what? That’s no gift…it’s the booby prize.
The minimum you are required to give is 10%. period.
The church could aid the least of these (think needy, hungry, naked, etc.), if people tithed. Instead they give the scraps left over once they’ve had their fun. First, they’ve eaten out, seen movies, bought (expensive) coffee, bottled water, goodies, weight loss products, pet products, books, accessories, top dollar clothes, the latest gadgets and toys, and video games, and extras, and used up money their deposable income. Whoops… FAIL. Forgetting anything, people? um yeah. Oh, yeah.
One of the 3 center pieces of the Sermon on the Mount…you know, the manifesto for citizens in the kingdom, is giving. Fasting, Giving, and Prayer are the 3 biggies. I think we’re sucking at it.
When everyone gives 10%, no one is in need. It’s a simple concept.
Instead of planning living expenses around giving the tithe–off the top, people quickly scan their wallet as the ushers come down the rows. “Gosh, I better help out a little here. Hum. I should of stopped at the ATM. Oh, well. Maybe next time.”
Instead of stepping out in faith knowing that God will provide for financial needs–more importantly every need, people wring their hands and say they have to slash the budget. The same people who don’t tithe can also be the same ones to say stupid things like, “It’s really hard to make these tough decisions.”
Yeh, it’s so hard and horrible, but apparently not as hard as giving what God requires. Let me guess, you’re also going hunting soon, right? So you can pay what ends up to be $35 per pound for deer meat. But, times are tough; you can’t really give more. I get it. That wretched smell worse than deer carcass is your boloney. Hey, jerky, that’s bad jerky.
I should add that if hunting is a “man thing” shopping might be a “woman thing”…things like cute shoes on sale, getting a hair coloring job at $70-100, and mani-pedis come to mind. Those things that we may feel entitled to pamper ourselves with. But you can insert your own guilty pleasure.
Churches pray that God will help them, or that the pews will fill up, and help the chances of filling the plate better. Maybe a cool new program will work. Maybe a cantata.
The problem is never money. The problem resides in the poverty of the heart.
Here’s the awkward truth: No church has financial problems. Instead they have spiritual problems. They have generosity problems. They have unstemmed selfishness, and a prolific lack of faith.
Here are some official troubling facts about giving.
Giving by Class: The two groups in the United States that give the highest percentages of their income are the poor (those making less than $20,000 per year) and the rich (those making more than $100,000 per year). Middle-class Americans (those making between $40,000 and $100,000 per year) are the smallest percentage givers.55
Few Support the Church: Only one-third to one-half of U.S. church members financially support their churches.56
Religious Donations: More than $60 billion a year is donated to religious nonprofit organizations. The vast bulk of that sum-more that $40 billion annually-goes directly to churches, almost all of it from individuals.57
Pets: In 2007, it is estimated that Americans will spend over $40 billion on their pets.58
Weight Loss: It is estimated that by 2010, Americans will spend over $60 billion on weight-loss programs.59
Giving Not a Priority: Christians worldwide had personal income totaling more than $16 trillion in 2007 but gave only 2 percent, or $370 billion, to Christian causes.60
Read more stats here, but let me warn you, it’s not pretty. It’s shameful.
I’m writing this because Christians need to wake up. If I have to be the one who bears the brunt of the pushback because of a kill the messenger mentality, I’m willing to take it.
The index of real and deep relationship with God is found in our obedience and our love in action. This includes giving as one ought to.
That is all.
Except that here is some really useful advice from Dave Ramsey on tithing and giving.