Why the Modern Church Sucks At Giving

Church giving

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:18 KJV)

When I say “the church” I don’t mean a particular denomination, minister, building or etc. I mean THE church.


And I.

The ecclesia. The called out ones. The ones with a hope after death.

Yup, us.

So when I say the church sucks at giving I’m not just pointing fingers at “them.”

It’s a real harsh thing to say I know. It’s not a good sound byte: “THE CHURCH sucks at giving.” It’s not something you’d teach in Sunday school…well…at least I hope you wouldn’t!

But the facts are staring us in the face. For instance:

In one study, tithers make up 10-25% of a congregation. And these people contribute 50-80% of the funding required to keep the church (building) open. Thank God most of those who do tithe are Tithehackers–in that they give 11%-20% or more of their income, far more than the baseline of 10%.

Which make me wonder, where are the other 75%?

But there are more shocking stats than that: only 5% of the U.S. tithes. What about the remaining 95%? Well…

  • 30% of the U.S. makes no charitable contributions
  • 50% of the U.S. give more than 0% but less than 2% of their income to charity; and
  • 15% give more than 2% but less than 10% of their income to charity

So basically 80% of Americans give less than 2% of their income. But then you might say:

“Well, Mike you don’t understand..it’s the economy. People would give more if they had more. But people have less, so they give less.”

That’s what I initially thought.

I said to myself, “Self, you really can’t say the ‘modern day church sucks at giving.’ How can people give what they don’t have??

Until I came across these stats:

Christians are giving at a 2.5% per capita.  During the Great Depression, they gave at a 3.3% rate.


Ok…that ‘church of today sucks at giving’ argument is starting to hold a lot more weight.

But’s let imagine for second. Let’s say Bible believing people were to increase their giving to a minimum of…I don’t know…let’s say 10%?

Well…according to those stats there would be an additional $165 billion.  To see the global impact, consider the following:

  • $25 billion would relieve global hunger, starvation, and deaths from preventable diseases in 5 years.
  • $12 billion would eliminate illiteracy in 5 years.
  • $15 billion would solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
  • $1 billion would fully fund the Great Commission.
  • $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.

Although I’m not sure about the $1 billion fully funding the Great Commission…these are some interesting numbers.

Giving Hurts

So why do we the church suck at giving?

It’s simple.

It’s not money–it’s the heart. Always has been, always will be.

When Paul spoke about the legendary giving of the Macedonian church he urged the Corinthian church to prove their love like the Macedonians proved theirs:

“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.” (2 Corinthians 8:7-8 NLT)

And yet in spite of this there are people that vigorously oppose tithing and/or giving.
Against Tithing
For them it is a HUGE sore spot…
Opposed to Tithing
…and an everlasting source of contention.
Go figure!

What if we didn’t suck at giving

But let’s move beyond “them.” Let’s imagine for a second what we could do if we didn’t suck at giving. How many more lives we could change?

Just think about what a factor spontaneous-generous-Holy-Spirit-led-giving could be in this life.

The possibilities are endless.

Billy Graham felt the same way. When asked his advice on giving he said:

“In the Old Testament, tithing was an important part of the worship of God’s people, and God promised to bless them if they obeyed His command to tithe. The Bible says, ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse … and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’ (Malachi 3:10). Think how much greater our impact on the world would be if every Christian followed this injunction.”

But what do you think: what can we do to as the church to stop sucking in our giving? Are there any practical plans to implement?

What do you think?

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  1. Staggering numbers. While I haven’t researched this or read where you got your numbers I think they are probably pretty accurate (just going off the Christians I know who give or don’t give).

    Thanks for sharing, I hope it spurs more to give with a cheerful heart!

    God’s always supplied my needs and given me more than I deserve, the least I can do is give 10% back. God’s faithful to take care of me no matter what the economy says! My trust is in Him!

    • I really do hope this stirs up a lot of people. I can only imagine a day when the church really responds to the challenge of giving. The world will never be the same:)

  2. I found your blog from Kimanzi’s blog. This is such a great topic.

    My thoughts… People say that tithing is “Old Covenant” or “Law”, and that’s true. However, under the New (better) Covenant, how much more blessed are we? So, I purpose to give MORE than what was required under law since I am now FREE to live under a much greater covenant – Grace!

    It disheartens me when people use scripture as an excuse not to tithe, “well, back then tithing was only about grain and livestock…”. Today, we don’t get paid with grain or livestock… I have to stop, I’m getting frustrated. I could write so much about true riches and of Gods promises for provision but, it’s YOUR blog and not mine.

    Great post, thanks for getting me spun up.

    • Lol!

      I’m glad I was able to get you spun up!

      I agree with everything you’re saying. It does grieve my heart when people say what they don’t “have” to do. Especially in light of the fact what God didn’t “have” to do. We’re no longer under the law yes. But does that negate generosity, worship, or sacrificial giving? Of course not.

      I appreciate the fire by the way Hutch. You can’t imagine how many people/sites that are so opposed to honoring God with substance. It’s great to see someone who is as passionate about God’s promises and provisions :)

  3. Hi Mike!

    Besides the source of stats on giving by the church in “The Hole In Our Gospel”, and beyond the foolishness of those who forget – now, what was that phrase? Oh, yeah – Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. Not just the 10% that is all He asks of us, but *all* of it belongs to Him, and He lets us keep 90%? If only the tax man treated us like that :)

  4. Love this post. I saw first hand the lack of giving from Christians. I was part of the finance committee of two churches and those figures are about accurate. You said something key in your post about tithing. It is a matter of the heart. When we have a genuine heart to give we want have a problem. The problem comes when we attempt to rationalize things and humanize God.

    • “The problem comes when we attempt to rationalize things and humanize God.” I love that! I agree with you Bernard. One of things I am learning is that when you’re dealing with the things of God you have to learn to shut off your brain. His ways and thoughts are so much higher that if we try to rationalize them we’ll miss what He’s trying to do. The best way, I’ve learned, to approach God is not with head knowledge but with faith. We’ll miss His best if we try to outthink Him! :)

      Giving is a heart issue. Always was, always will be . I hoping that God would really touch the heart of the church so that we would all become radical givers so we can unleash the radical blessings that come as a result.

  5. Great stats and thoughts. I think people have a hard time giving to the church because a lot of people don’t fully trust the church. Will the money really go toward helping people or the pastors new car or bigger house. A lot of church leaders have misused money and when they do the media makes a huge deal about it (Which is understandable) but it can cause people to think all church leaders are similar. This is primary for non-believers or new believes but older timers should have no excuses not to give:)

  6. I agree with you on that.

    Personally, I like to give my money to ministries where I see fruit: namely changed lives. If I don’t see that I’m apprehensive about giving to them.

    But even though there are church leaders that do abuse offerings Scripture is clear–when we give we’re giving to God. That’s where our loyalties should lie–not to pastors or to the media :)

    • You’re on the right track – due diligence is a requisite on our part. Are we building up people, or building a building fund and screw the people (or maintaining a pastor in a lifestyle none of his congregants could dream of having?)

      Once we’re done checking to see where the money goes, once we decide to give, it isn’t ours anymore. Love the level-head here, Mike! :)

      • Thanks Rick.

        And then at the end of the day we are duped God sees our hearts. He’ll reward who He needs to reward and repay who He needs to repay ;)

  7. You’ve hit one of my weak points. Due to some circumstances outside of my control, I have a very tight budget. I don’t tithe, at least not ten percent. I do my best to share my talents and volunteer in local ministry. I often convince myself that my time is worth money and therefore I’m tithing. What do you think about that idea?

    • I hear you. I know what it is to have a tight budget. I also know what it is to tithe on a tight budget. I remember months when I got my check and all I had was my tithe and my rent…and that’s all I had for the next two weeks. SO BELIEVE me: I understand.

      I have a lot of thoughts on tithing and giving but the truth is my thoughts mean nothing. The only thought we should look to are God’s thoughts on the matter. I know the concept your talking about: tithing your time. I’ve heard of it but I’ve never seen any Scripture that support. As far as I know–as a born again believer–ALL our time belongs to God.

      David said, “My times are in Your Hands….” (Psalm 31:15 KJV) Or as the Message says it:” Hour by hour I place my days in your hand”

      Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

      So those two Scriptures alone teach me that every second I have belongs to God. The Scriptures never say that we tithe our time, it says that God has all our time. And that time is used to bring Him glory in whatever capacity.

      When the Bible talks about tithing it always talks about substance (or money): http://tithehacker.com/tithing-as-worship/

      But tithing is an individual thing. When I started tithing seriously it was more a prompting of the Holy Spirit and not anything that was forced on me. That’s the kind of giving that honors God in the long run.

      I hope that answers SOMETHING :)

  8. Mike, I love this post. And yes, the church does suck at giving. Here’s what Christians fail to realize:

    First and foremost, giving is worship. Everything else–funding the Great Commission, sending missionaries, feeding the homeless, etc.–is a very distant second.

    If we can realize that giving is worship, it’s a game changer.

    • Absolutely Larry!

      Giving IS worship. And you’re right once we get that perspective everything else falls into place. Thanks for the “game-changing” piece of wisdom ;)

  9. I missed this post and it’s such a good one. I appreciate all the data you have in it. It’s amazing to think what would happen if everyone became a tithe hacker!

    • Thank you Caleb. It was something that was really dear to my heart. I used the #’s because I believe in the Bible, matters of the Spirit, but I also believe in statistics in helping me to “count the cost.” In this there is a heavy cost…but thank God I serve a “heavy” or weighty God.

  10. We are to tip the waitress 15% and God 10% – perhaps something needs to change!

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