More than three quarters (77%) of American Protestant churchgoers believe tithing is a Biblical command — down from 83% on six years ago.
That’s according to a Lifeway Research poll which found believers have diverse opinions on the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of tithing.
The Christian pollster’s Executive Director Scott McConnell observed: “Giving 10% of your earnings to God is still a widespread standard among churchgoers. The small decline in considering tithing a command appears to be more from a lack of teaching on the subject than a rejection of such teaching.”
Those aged 18-34 are the least likely demographic to agree that tithing is a Biblical command that still applies today (66%). Denominationally, Lutherans are the least likely to agree (59%).
Those with evangelical beliefs are more likely than those without evangelical beliefs to say tithing is Biblical and currently applicable (85% v. 71%).
Those who attend a worship service at least four times a month are more likely than those who attend one to three times a month (80% v. 72%) to agree.
The survey found 51% of churchgoers give 10% or more of their income to their church.
Mr. McConnell noted that: “Believing God wants you to tithe and doing it are two different things. Some who do not tithe 10% of their income are consistent with their giving at a lower threshold, while others give when they feel they are able. Like many exhortations in Scripture, giving your finances to God is not necessarily easy in practice.”
While most parishioners prefer to give directly to their church, a growing number are donating directly to Christian ministries or individuals in need.
There’s also been a recent spike in online giving, but most US churchgoers still give cash.
“While electronic giving has grown significantly in the last five years, 62% of churchgoers who give, do not yet utilise electronic giving methods to give to their church,” Mr. McConnell said.
He added that: “Churches would likely be better served by emphasising the motivation to give, rather than the mode.”