What Could Happen If The Church Tithed? Quite a lot actually…
Let’s look at some Church tithing statistics
The reality is the American church could literally change the world. If every American Christian just gave a little the difference we would make would be greater than anything seen before. The much more somber reality is we aren’t willing to do it. We cannot even commit to giving 10% of our income so that the world could be transformed and people could hear the message of the Gospel.
Now, I know the tithe, a 10% offering, is not mandated in the New Testament. And I firmly believe we are not held to the Old Testament Law, which includes the tithe. Jesus came and fulfilled the requirements of the law and replaced the Old Covenant with a New Covenant. In other words, we are no longer bound by the Old Testament Law. But that’s another topic for another post.
While we are not held to the tithe, we are called to live generously. Which is talked about regularly and is supposed to be the trademark of Christians. We are called to be generous people. So what does it say about the America Church that we have the opportunity to change the world, but instead sit on our hands?
But this is not an article on why you should tithe, rather what could happen if all Christians in America were actually generous. What could happen if we all gave generously? I will use the 10% tithe as a benchmark because we are familiar with it. This also isn’t an article about the Church’s misuse of money. That’s a different topic for another day. This article simply dreams with what could happen if we all gave generously.
Current Tithing Statistics
As previously mentioned the 10% gift is an Old Testament Law and is not mentioned in the New Testament. Instead we are called to live a generous life. There’s no number for what generous is. For some it might be 1%, others 5%, some 10%, and still others (most Americans) much more. However, for the sake of this argument we will look at what would happen if every Christian gave 10%. That will be our benchmark.
First, let’s start off with some tithing statistics of where we are currently.
- Currently Christians are giving at a 2.5% per capita/tithe. (Source)
- In the Great Depression Christians gave 3.3%. (Source)
- Currently only 10-25% of any congregation gives the full tithe (Source)
- Only 3-5% of Americans give regularly to the Church. (Source)
There are plenty more statistics out there. But I think you get the point. Christians aren’t as generous as we think we are.
If Everyone Tithed
Buckle up, we are about to do some napkin math.
There are currently around 327 million people living in America (Source). Conservatively 20% attend church regularly, 1 – 2 times a month (source). That means, roughly, 65,400,000 people attend church in America. The median income is $61,372 (Source). Our napkin math leads us to a total of $401,372,880,000 if every Christian gives 10% of their income. For simplicity, we assume a little more conservatively and call it $400 billion.
If you take the current average that Christians are giving at a 2.5% per capita/tithe we can estimate that roughly $100 Billion is currently coming in. Meaning if the Church in America tithed 10% there would be an extra $300(+/-) billion to fund ministry work locally and globally. Obviously that is a rough estimate. Several reputable sources put an increase of around $160 billion. But the point isn’t the number, the point is that we would have a LOT of extra money to make an impact.
So what are some of the things we could do with that money?
Let’s start locally.
Launch Outreach Ministries
- $1.8 billion to add a church campus/prison ministry in the roughly 1,800 prisons in America (check out the work the Hope Behind Bars is doing)
- $1.1 billion to add 5,500 new family counseling centers
- $500 million to provide debt and financial management training.
- $10 billion to help people facing financial crisis.
- $15 billion to provide support and housing for every homeless person in America. (Source)
- $5.6 billion to eliminate the financial burden of adopting from foster care $14,000 a year (average yearly cost of raising a child) per family. (Source)
- $10 billion for additional ministries.
We don’t need to head overseas to find people in need. There are plenty right here in our backyard. With everyone tithing the Church would have more than enough money to care for the needs of people in their church and in their community.
Fully Staff the Church
- $1 billion to train 20,000 new pastors
- $500 million to raise the median salary for current pastors
Many churches are understaffed, and many more pastors are underpaid. With a full tithe we could train new pastors to fill the current church roles that are left empty and fill new roles created by church plants. We could also raise the median salary from $44k to $54k. (Source)
Maybe you are wondering why we need to pay pastors. Why can’t they just get a second job? The median work week for a pastor is 50 hours. That means more than 50% of pastors are putting in more than 50 hours a week. Less than 3% of pastors work less than 40 hours a week. (Source) Pastor’s have high demands on their schedule. They simply don’t have time to have another job and care for their families. And a large number of pastors are underpaid due to the finical strains of the church.
Bottom line, we could fully staff the current church and the church of the future.
Let’s shift gears for a moment and look at what impact the church in America could have across seas.
We Could Change the World
- $25 billion and 5 years would relieve global hunger, starvation, provide clean water and deaths from preventable diseases.
- $12 billion would eliminate illiteracy in 5 years.
- $15 billion would solve the world’s water and sanitation issues. (Source for the 3 statistics above)
- $10.8 billion would free 27 million people living in slavery. (Source)
The world is filled with people dying from lack of food, water, and preventable diseases. And we can fix that. I’m not talking about making everyone rich or leveling the economic playing field. There will still be rich and poor and people in-between. But it is within our reach to stop these preventable things and raise the quality of life for people born into poverty.
We have the money and the resources to fix this. All we need to do is make the sacrifice.
Fully Fund the Great Commission
- $2.5 Billion (Source)
An estimated 1 in 5 people in this world have never heard about Jesus. Of the 6,800 living languages about 1,800 do not have the Bible translated into their native tongue. (Source) We have the resources to accomplish this. It will take many years, but we can do it. We have the resources to put a Bible in everyone’s hands and literally tell the world about Jesus. Think of the impact a small sacrifice from everyone could make.
Again, the purpose of this article is not to show exactly what we could do and how we could do it. Some of the listed things would probably cost more, and some less. They are simply estimates of what it could take to do some of those things. The point of this article is to show what is within our reach if we just sacrificed a little.
The reality is in the numbers. We are selfish. We would rather keep more for ourselves than be generous. Let me rephrase that…. I am selfish. I would rather keep more for myself than be generous.
The American church has it within itself to literally change the world in ways never before seen. God has given us SO much, and we are grossly mismanaging what he entrusted us with.
Don’t read this as what “they” need to do better. Rather what is your role? Are you living generously? If you are a Christian, you are the church. So are you playing your part? You will not be held responsible for what others do with what God has given them. But you will be held accountable for what you have done.
What do you think could happen if the church was generous?
Editors Note: This article was originally posted on May 31, 2016. It has been revamped and updated.