While fully 86% of self-identified evangelicals says it's a biblical commandment to tithe – give 10% of their income to the local church – only about 13% (roughly one in eight) actually do it. That's according to a just-released report from Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts.
That report – titled "The Generosity Factor: Evangelicals and Giving" – contains data on how and where the more than 1,000 American evangelical Protestants surveyed give money.
According to the report, over the last year the average evangelical gave just under $2,000 to their church and just over $600 to charity. The median marks were considerably lower: $340 and $50, respectively; or put another way, just over one-half of 1% for church giving and 0.1% for charitable giving, states the report.
The research groups point out that the figures include many individuals who give nothing at all to their church or to charity.
AFN spoke with two Southern Baptist leaders to gauge their reaction to those findings. Dr. Richard Land, president emeritus of Southern Evangelical Seminary, explains that those who don't tithe are robbing themselves, as well as God.
"It robs these people of blessings," he shares. "You know, you can't out-give God. Whatever you give to God, he gives back, pressed down and overflowing."
And to those who say the 10% number is only an Old Testament law, Land responds: "Grace always demands more than law. In the Old Testament, 10% was required and you had fulfilled your responsibility. In the New Testament, it says you give as God prospers you."
Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist-Dallas acknowledges that individual Christians need to step up, but argues that part of the blame for the low numbers goes to the Church itself.
"Bottom line, the low level of giving among evangelical Christians is an indictment against the Church," says Jeffress. "The Church has failed in its responsibility to teach what the Bible says about the responsibility every Christian has to give through [their] local church."
But the Dallas pastor has some encouragement for those who are nervous to start tithing.
"[To those] people who say they can't afford to tithe, I would say they can't afford not to," he offers. "The scripture is very clear that God blesses – sometimes financially, sometimes in other ways – those who give to his work generously."
Editor's note: AFN was unable to find a link to the Grey Matter/Infinity Concepts report – but Infinity Concepts offers it via download.