Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Myth of American Evangelical Stinginess

Do we have a long way to go? Yes.
Are we self-centered, self-interested, and self-involved? Yes.
But the image of the stingy American church is essentially a false one. (It particularly irks me when the criticism of outside celebrities and even younger inside church leaders make it sound like they invented missions and charity ten years ago.)

Douglas Wilson has a revealing and penetrating perspective:
Americans are about six percent of the world’s population and we account for about forty-five percent of the world’s philanthropy. Among Americans, believers are far more generous than secularists. Among believers, Protestants are more liberal in their giving than Catholics. Among Protestants, evangelicals are more generous than mainliners. But if you were ask a secular arbiter of all that is philanthropic for his opinion on how we were doing, he would invert the whole thing. That much said, when the standard is God’s generosity to us, most of us are not nearly as generous to others as we ought to be. We should pray for grace to overflow more liberally still. But we may be pardoned if the evangelical artesian well, producing 20 gallons a minute, while wishing it could be 40, doesn’t want to hear lectures on charity from the dry hole of secular leftism.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that overall, Amercian church-going Christian's are generous. But did these studies only include those who said they attend churches, vs those who do not attend?
I'd be interested.

I think that unbelievers have a completely different perception of Christian giving.

I think, for the most part, unbelievers think that church-going Christians only give to their local churches, yet are stingy in their giving to the world.

After all, I used to be a waitress, as well as other service positions, and I don't know how many times I could have told you that the people who I knew were church-going Christians tipped low or even not at all. In fact, I actually came to expect, when sitting tables of Christians wearing crosses, etc, not to expect what I could have earned from a table of unbelievers.

As well, there are probably thousands of people in America, who are neighbors next door to a Christian family, barely eking by, almost about to go homeless or in major financial problems, yet their Christian neighbors, it wouldn't even "dawn" on them to give financially to help them out. And, worse yet, the extent of their interaction with their Christian neighbor could have been "please get your dog to stop barking."

This may sound harsh, but I can see why many unbelievers have a difficult time seeing the Love and Grace Christians are meant to live-out.

I have only been able to "see" this disconcerting trend after stepping out of the religious institutional system of churches. I AM a Christian, but am walking in a free-flowing relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. A personal God Journey.

I think giving is incredibly important, and I myself desire to become a more authentic and loving giver. The Holy Spirit has been showing me that to be one, means not "giving" in the manner the institutional church system "taught" me. It means meeting others needs (whether that's financial, emotional, spiritual, or physical) when the Holy Spirit so places upon my heart.

Good Blog topic, Jared.

~Amy :)