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Greed, thy name is Martin.

That title is perhaps overstating things a bit--perhaps ignorance should be substituted for greed. In reviewing the family finances, we found, unfortunately, that we only give about 3.5 percent of our income to charity. Rounding down, (and guessing at the same time)unscientifically to after tax dollars the percentage only increases to 3.9%. So, we resolved to finagle numbers to move that up to 5% this year, if not more. That is still less than a "tithe" and frankly disappointing, but it is best not to make gigantic moves. The idea is to get to the magic 10 (or even 9) percent within the next few years.
Providentially (perhaps) today, I picked up the November/December issue of Books and Culture and read "A Lot of Lattes" by Ron Sider, his review of Passing the Plate, a sociological study of why American Christians aren't all that generous. He says there would be an extra $46 billion a year available for "kingdom work" if "committed Christians" tithed. The majority of American Christians only contribute 2.9 percent. Smugly, I felt a bit better. Great, now am I not only stingy, but proud as well.
Here's the summary of the article in Sider's own words:
In their concluding chapter, the authors summarize their findings. They think there are five primary reasons for the fact that "the wealthiest national body of Christian believers at any time in all of church history end up spending most of their money on themselves." The most important is our society's "institutionalized mass consumerism." The second is the failure of pastors to deal with the issue. The third is that many Christians seem to be confused about the meanings, expectations, and purposes of faithful Christian giving. Fourth, some have distrust about whether their donations will be used wisely. Finally, the near total privatization of the topic means that almost no American Christians discuss their giving with anyone else.

Well, here I'm breaking the silence of the last point. Why is our giving rather dismal? Two factors: ignorance--we never quantified our giving in terms of percentage of total income, and a lack of proper budgeting.
As I stated, we're working to change this. Perhaps more people will read the article and examine their giving habits too.


Lloyd said…
Ahh...yes..we too hover just over 5%. It always seems to creep up on you at the end of the year.
Scot said…
It isn't creeping, it's been there like some cyst, and we've just let it stagnate. The question is how close to ten (or past) should we bring it. I'd love to have my needs met in such a way that I give away more than I keep.

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