In the latest release in The State of Generosity series, Barna Group found that tithing is not widely understood or practiced in today’s church. Only 33% of pastors encourage the traditional tithe —giving 10% of one’s income to church. One in five pastors (21%) believes that congregants should give enough to be considered sacrificial.
The data in Revisiting the Tithe and Offering showed that about two in five (39%) American adults are familiar with the term “tithe” and can provide a definition. The same number (39%) admitted to being unfamiliar with the term while 22% said they are familiar with the word but do not know its meaning.
Just 21% of Christians save 10% or more of their income to give to their local church. —Barna Group
Among practicing Christians, 43% can define what tithe is. More than half (59%) know what it means and 18% are familiar with the term. Practicing Christians are more likely to follow giving the customary 10% of their income to church (42%), but this means that the majority still gives less than what’s expected of them.
Just 21% of Christians save 10% or more of their income to give to their local church. While the amount of money they give varies (37%), a quarter (25%) of Christians don’t practice tithing.
It’s no surprise that 99% of pastors are familiar with the word and its meaning. However, they hold different opinions on how much tithe a person must give. The majority of pastors (70%) said a church tithe need not be exclusively financial while the rest believes that tithing should be through monetary donations only.
Recently, televangelist Pastor Creflo Dollar denounced his earlier belief on tithing. An advocate of the 10% tithe, the megachurch pastor retracted his previous convictions and asked his congregants to destroy all his merchandise pertaining to his old teachings. He now urges parishioners to give to the church according to how much they’re willing to give.
While church heads and Christians may not have a consensus on how much a tithe is, personal finance personality Dave Ramsey asks us to have another perspective on tithing. In a Royal Gazette article, he wrote that there are indications in the Bible that a tithe is the tenth of one’s income, but what matters more is how Christians see tithing.
“Tithing isn’t about making a deposit into God’s bank account, or building up spiritual brownie points. It isn’t a salvation issue, either. It’s all about changing our hearts and our minds.” He adds, “It’s about being a little less selfish, and a little more Christ-like. I believe it makes God smile when we put other people’s needs ahead of our own wants.”