Following on yesterday’s post, I came across this review (from December) of Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money
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. [Note: No doubt this figure has lost some of it’s shock value in light of the recent Wall Street bailouts.] 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.
Here’s the breakdown of giving:
- Twenty percent of all Christians give 0 – nothing
- Twenty percent of all Christians give 86.4 percent of the total.
- Five percent give well over half (59.6 percent) of all contributions.
- Higher-income American Christians give less as a percentage of household income than poorer American Christians.
- As our personal disposable income quadrupled, the percentage donated by American Christians actually declined.
. . . the widespread consumerism and materialism of the culture—expressed above all in our incessant advertising—seduces many people into making extravagant decisions about major purchases like houses and cars and smaller things like recreation, eating out, vacations, etc.; and the result is that most families are financially pressed in spite of enormous wealth.
Read the whole review – A Lot of Lattes – to find out five reasons “the wealthiest national body of Christian believers at any time in all of church history end up spending most of their money on themselves.”
Maybe there are some advantages to living next door to poverty.