|Staring in the face of a seemingly interminable recession, some experts see a way that church giving – and charitable giving – can improve if churches change their approach to stewardship.
Churchgoers have to be made aware that the annual percentage of their income that they give to charity is 2.26 percent. The Bible asks for 10 percent. In an ideal world where everyone tithes (at least at churches in the United States), an additional $161 billion would flow to churches and charities. Even if the ideal isn’t possible, the authors of “State of Church Giving Through 2007: What Are Our Church Billionaires Thinking – Or Are They?” suggest that putting a continued emphasis on tithing and Biblical imperatives will cause people to give more, according to an article in the Charlotte Observer
The writers are Sylvia and John Ronsvalle, the leaders at Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based research organization that studies stewardship and how churches spend money.
The book reveals another mistake churches have made, whether by choice or not: continually decreasing benevolence – that is, decreasing the amount the church gives to outside charities, ministries or larger church networks. In 2007, benevolences bottomed out at 14 percent of church giving, down from 21 percent 40 years earlier. In the eyes of the authors, many churches have turned their focuses inward, claiming that they have to take care of themselves first (i.e. pay the bills) before supporting other endeavors. And if churches are able to pay their own bills, they tend to get complacent.
Lastly, one more change the authors propose is for churches to rally their big donors, or “wholesale millionaires.” They assert that lobbying the big givers to match the combined combination of little givers will work to increase giving, even in a recession.