Talking about giving in the church and money in the Church is hard.
But money is a reality every church needs to deal with. Not only does your church need to learn to get better at discussing money, but you’ve also got to face some harsh facts about church tithes.
1. Religious giving is in decline
According to fundraising statistics, charitable giving in the U.S. actually rose in 2017. But the percentage of contributions given to religious organizations went down. Religious giving is currently less than one-third of charitable donations, down from over half in the 1980s.
There’s no doubt that the decline in church donations is due, in part, to the explosive growth in the nonprofit sector. People have more options of places to give, and most of them are not religiously affiliated. When people want to help solve issues in our culture, they often look for places outside of the church to meet those needs.
How can we help to change that? The church needs to step up in addressing how we help fix some of our cultural issues. We need to show people how we’re relevant in solving real-world problems.
2. Not many people give
Despite the fact that the Bible compels us to give to the Church, most Christians don’t. Of the 247 million U.S. citizens who profess to be Christians, only 1.5 million tithe. That’s less than 1%.
As a society, we’re a little better. But the average American still only gives about 2% of their income to charity every year. It’s a shame that we as Christians are below the average when it comes to giving.
What if we could be known as the most generous people. What would it look like if every believer gave? Think about the difference we could make in the world. Think about the example we could set for others. Start by helping your church to become more generous.
Related: 11 Ways You Can Increase Giving at Your Church
3. Giving skews older
Age plays a role in giving.
According to the Giving USA Special Report in 2017, most people who give to religious organizations are 65 and older (54%). People under the age of 40 are less likely (23%) to donate to the church.
This makes sense. Congregations are getting older. Older folks have a more established income and are more likely to have fewer expenses. So it makes sense that church giving will tend to skew towards the older generations.
But it doesn’t always have to be this lopsided. If the Church is going to become more relevant and experience growth, we will need to motivate millennials to give and raise up younger givers. As a church, we need to figure out how to engage other generations to contribute in meaningful ways.
4. Church giving is needed
The good news is God doesn't need our money to make an impact in people’s lives. He’s the omnipotent creator of the Universe. He’ll find a way to get by with, or without us.
So why do we give to the church? The bad news is that your church does need money to make an impact in people’s lives. God doesn’t have to worry about utility bills, staff salaries, and travel expenses. Your church does. That’s just a reality of the world we live in .
This doesn’t mean your church needs to change its ethical standards to chase money. But we do have to show people the importance of giving money to church and make it easy for them to contribute. There is a balance here that’s completely possible for every church to hit.
5. God commands us to give
“One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.” —Leviticus 27:30
There are plenty of scriptures about giving in the Bible. Many examples from Scripture show how giving back demonstrates our faith in God. We cannot serve two masters, so we give to show our deference to the Lord.
Maybe we aren’t technically required to give exactly 10% of everything we earn. Jesus never wanted us to be legalistic about how we donate. After all, God loves a cheerful giver—we should be doing this out of a love for Him, rather than any obligation. Church giving is a privilege.
6. How we give is changing
Donating to church, both online giving and mobile giving for churches increases every year and will only continue to do so. This change scares many churches because they don’t feel prepared. But we should be excited, because this is a great opportunity to reach more people, especially in the younger generations.
As technology shifts, so will how we donate to the church. But the church cannot ignore these changes or risk getting left behind. Learn to embrace online giving. Give people the option for mobile and text in church donations. The more ways people can give back to God, the better.
Talking about giving in the church can be hard. Especially when people are questioning things like, “why give money to church organizations instead of other non-profits?” I hope these truths will help as you think through discussing giving in your church.
What are some hard truths your church faces with giving? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.