For most, an occasional sermon about tithing is standard fare. As it turns out though, most American pastors aren't convinced Christians need to give the customary 10% of their income to the church.
Newly published data from Barna's "Revisiting the Tithe & Offering," a section in its The State of Generosity series, found pastors are divided on what tithing should look like for most churchgoers.
Most pastors don't define giving outside the church as a form of tithing, but a clear majority—70%—said such giving does not need to be solely financial. And when it comes to monetary giving, only 33% believe the traditionally accepted 10% is proper.
It should be noted the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of "tithe" is "a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax, especially for the support of a religious establishment."
One-in-five pastors (21%) believe the threshold for a proper offering is simply whether it is sacrificial, while 20% said Christians should just give as much as they are willing to offer.
Interestingly, the Barna data—collected after surveying 2,016 U.S. adults from Nov. 12-19, 2021—found that most American Christians don't have a clear understanding of tithing.
Only 43% of self-described Christians and just 44% of church givers could "decisively" define tithing. However, practicing Christians had a much better grasp of the term, with 59% saying they knew the meaning of the religious term.
As one would expect, 99% of pastors said they understand the concept of tithing, which begs the question: Why is there such a wide gap between pastors' and churchgoers' understanding of giving.
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