Strong Link Found between Worship Attendance and Religious Giving

Strong Link Found between Worship Attendance and Religious Giving

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The more frequently a household attends worship services, the more likely its members donate to religious institutions, and give generously, new research shows.

“Most strikingly, those attending religious services once a month or more make an average annual religious contribution of $1,848, while those attending religious services less than once a month donate $111,” says the report from Giving USA.

The report, released Tuesday (Oct. 24), draws on data from the University of Michigan’s Philanthropy Panel Study.

“Giving to religion,” as defined by the Chicago-based Giving USA Foundation, includes contributions to congregations, religious media, denominations and mission organizations. It does not include faith-related institutions such as the Salvation Army, the University of Notre Dame, global relief organization World Vision, Catholic hospitals or Jewish foundations.

Overall, giving to religious causes amounted to close to a third of all charitable giving in 2016, Giving USA says. Religious institutions received $122.94 billion that year, or 32 percent of charitable donations. That figure is more than double the amount received by educational institutions, the next highest sector within nonprofits, which garnered $59.77 billion.

David King, director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University, said it’s notable that religious giving has remained at about a third of charitable giving in recent years “despite trends that we’ve seen around declining religious affiliation and religious involvement.”

Researchers from the university found that almost one-tenth of households that never attend religious services give to religious institutions, but in far lower amounts — $67 annually on average.

Households that attend religious services every week or more are 28 times more likely to give to religious causes than those that never attend, researchers found.

“(Y)ounger generations do give to religion, and do so at a rate that is similar to earlier generations,” said Rick Dunham, a board member of Giving USA Foundation and president of a fundraising company that focuses on faith-based nonprofits. “It is reasonable to expect that as younger generations mature, they will be similarly engaged in charitable giving as older generations are.”

Among donors to religious causes that Giving USA tracks, Protestants give more to those causes ($2,809) than Jews ($2,291), Catholics ($1,372) or those of other affiliations ($1,979).

African-Americans give a greater percentage of their donations to religion than other groups – 74 percent, compared with 66 percent among Hispanics and 58 percent among whites.

Age is also viewed as a factor in giving. Among donors to religious causes, annual average giving reaches its peak between ages 40 and 64 ($2,505) – which is higher than donors under age 40 ($1,892), and those over 65 ($2,338).

Religious giving also increases with income as well as with educational attainment.

While 21 percent of heads of household without a high school degree gave to a religious institution, 49 percent with education beyond a bachelor’s degree gave to religious causes. Researchers attribute that change in part to connections between education and income.

 

Courtesy: Religion News Service

How Can Christians Guard Against Imbalance between Faith and Politics? – Dr. Kevin Smith

 

This last election cycle, and really every election cycle, kind of demonstrates that there are Christians who are probably not concerned enough about the political process. There are Christians that are kind of appropriately concerned and there are Christians that are overly invested, in the political process. I think one of the greatest guards is to remember that we are those who have a dual citizenship, and our citizenship is in heaven and Christ, and we are in the (Book of) Peter language “pilgrims, and sojourners, and travelers through this barren land, that is not our home. We are to render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and render to God the things that belong to God.” I think we want to avoid not taking these things seriously on the one hand, but not avoid being over-invested on the other hand.

Honestly, Christians in the United States, we don’t live in communism or socialism on the dictatorship, so we do have opportunity to vote. I believe there’s some stewardship with that voting. I do believe we’re voting and participating kind of in a broken system, so I encourage scripture Christians to realize they’re not going to open the scripture and see a candidate space. And they’re not going to open the scripture and see the platform of the Democratic, nor the Republican party.

You’re going to have to do some thinking and some engagement, and there’s some contextualization to how you engage in a broken, fallen political system. I don’t mean broken, just in a sense of the United States is categorized by congressional gridlock and all that. I mean broken as in a sense of, our politics is composed of broken people; because all of humanity is fallen. I mean it in that broad sense. There’s no perfect political system.

I would encourage Christians to approach it with the appropriate level of consideration. I’m not over-invested. I’m not under-invested. I realize that the mission of the church, and the mission of me as a Christ honoring husband and father, those kind of things don’t change every four years or two years, on election cycle. The great commission is the same. And so, in one sense, the congregation of followers of Christ, they’re doing the same things regardless of what’s going around us with Caesar and other governmental influences.

Finally, I would just say, I just don’t think there’s anything in the political process that is worth losing the fellowship of the Body of Christ. In this last election cycle, 2016, I think hurt the unity of the Body of Christ of many Bible believing Christians in the United States, and I think we’ll have consequences for our missiological effectiveness for a good while going forward. That has happened. We can’t undo that, and so let’s just press toward the mark of the high calling of God. We have to avoid being over-invested.