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Which denomination tithes the most?

An individual holds an offering basket filled with dollar bills and envelopes.
An individual holds an offering basket filled with dollar bills and envelopes. | Getty Images

Whether churchgoers believe that tithing — giving 10% of one’s income — is a biblical commandment varies depending on age and denomination, according to a recent study. 

Lifeway Research, an organization that examines ongoing church ministry trends, published a study on April 25 that found more than 3 in 4 American Protestant churchgoers (77%) view tithing as a biblical command that the faithful must abide by today. 

The study of 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers was conducted online from Sept. 19-29, 2022, using a national pre-recruited panel. The completed sample has a 95% confidence level and the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. 

Young adult respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 were the least likely to believe that tithing is a biblical commandment (66%). Along denominational lines, 59% of Lutherans agreed that tithing is a biblical commandment compared to 85% of Evangelicals and 71% of non-Evangelicals.

Eighty percent of people who attend a worship service at least four times a month agreed that tithing is a biblical commandment compared to 72% of respondents who attend a worship service one to three times a month. 

In a statement, Lifeway Research Executive Director Scott McConnell concluded that based on the survey, “Giving 10% of your earnings to God is still a widespread standard among churchgoers.” He attributed the “small decline in considering tithing a command” to “a lack of teaching on the subject” as opposed to “a rejection of such teaching.”

Regarding how much churchgoers give, only 51% of those surveyed said they give 10% or more of their income to the church that they attend.

Thirty-one percent told pollsters they give a tithe and 19% said they give more than 10% of their income. Meanwhile, 16% said they donate less than 10% of their income to their church. Nine percent of respondents reported that their financial situation makes it difficult to give, and 2% said that they did not give. 

According to the study, how much churchgoers are willing to tithe varies based on denomination. Those attending Baptist (40%), Presbyterian/Reformed (34%) and non-denominational (34%) churches were more likely to give 10% of their income than members of Lutheran (19%), Restorationist Movement (17%) and Methodist churches (12%). A higher share of churchgoers with Evangelical beliefs (39%) told pollsters that they tithe than those without Evangelical beliefs (25%).

Additionally, how often participants attend worship service appears to play a role in how likely they are to tithe. Churchgoers who attend a worship service at least four times a month (34%) were more likely to tithe than those who attend one to three times a month (26%).

The newly released study found that fewer churchgoers (31%) give 10% of their income to the church today when compared to churchgoers from a 2017 Lifeway Research study. The 2017 survey revealed that 37% of Christians tithed. 

However, the most recent study also found that 51% of churchgoers give 10% or more of their income to the church compared to 54% of churchgoers from 2017, meaning the data has remained relatively steady.

Examining the methods churchgoers use to tithe, the study found that most still donate cash at church (53%) compared to 30% who said they give a check to the church and 23% who reported providing electronically.

Fourteen percent of respondents answered that they give through their bank, while 7% said they give through an app provided by the church. Another 2% of churchgoers said they gave through a text provided by the church, and 8% indicated that they tithe through automated payments. 

While more than 3 in 4 American Protestant churchgoers still viewed tithing as a biblical command, not all participants agreed that tithe money must go to the church.

Ninety percent of respondents said that tithe money can go to the church, while 55% insisted that tithes can be given to a Christian ministry. Much smaller shares of respondents thought that tithes can be given to an individual (42%), another church that they do not attend on a regular basis (34%) and a secular charity (25%). 

Lutherans, according to the study, were among the denominational categories that were the most likely to say that tithing money can be given to the church (98%), followed by 96% of participants identifying as Presbyterian/Reformed and 93% of Baptists. Ninety-two percent of non-denominational churchgoers also agreed that tithing money can go to churches. 

Denominationally, Lutherans were among the least likely to say that tithe money can go to a Christian ministry (72%), another church they don’t regularly attend (58%) or a secular charity (45%). 

Presbyterian/Reformed churchgoers were also among the most likely to say tithes can be donated to a Christian ministry (68%) or another church they don’t regularly attend (53%). These respondents were also among the most likely to say tithe money can go to an individual in need (51%). 

Ninety-five percent of participants holding Evangelical beliefs said that tithe money can be given to churches compared to 85% of churchgoers without Evangelical beliefs. Twenty-nine percent of those without Evangelical beliefs said tithe money can go to secular charities compared to 20% with Evangelical beliefs. 

Fifty-one percent of Baptists said that tithe money can be given to a Christian ministry, 37% said it can go to a person in need and 34% said it can be given to a church they don’t frequently attend. Only 19% of Baptists believed that tithe money can be donated to a secular charity. 

The latest research about tithing comes amid other polls suggesting churchgoers don’t tithe anymore and some pastors have been speaking out against the practice. 

As The Christian Post previously reported in October 2021, a study titled “The Generosity Factor: Evangelicals and Giving” found that only an estimated 13% of Evangelicals tithe and just half give away less than 1% of their income annually, even though a majority view tithing as a biblical practice. The findings from Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts are based on responses collected from 1,000 American Evangelical Protestants. 

A separate study that surveyed 2,016 U.S. adults from Nov. 12-19, 2021, found a lack of consensus among pastors on the practice of tithing. Seventy percent of pastors maintained that tithing doesn’t have to be financial and only 33% expressed support for people tithing 10% of their income. Another 20% of pastors said Christians should give as much as they are willing. Twenty-one percent of pastors did not name a specific amount Christians should tithe but stated that it should be “enough to be considered sacrificial.” 

In June 2022, televangelist Creflo Dollar renounced tithing and his previous teachings on the subject during a sermon titled “The Great Misunderstanding.” Dollar said that after studying Romans 6:14, which states that one is “not under law, but under grace,” he concluded that tithing is an Old Testament concept. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: samantha.kamman@christianpost.com. Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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