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The 2nd Annual State of the Plate and View from the Pew research was highlighted in over 300 news stories/articles/interviews and has been reported in TV news reports and on 2000 radio stations.

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View from the Pew: Top 5 Findings on Finances, Debt, and Giving/Tithing from 1000+ Households

Survey reveals surprising job, financial, debt, and giving/tithing practices

For Immediate Release

By Brian Kluth, Director of research and Author of the bestselling Bible devotional

Contact:  Cell: 719-930-4000

Colorado Springs, CO - For many decades, most Americans believed they would do better financially each year than the year before. Household income would regularly increase for many families through raises, bonuses, cost of living increases, overtime pay, and perks.  That’s no longer the case for many of these families—at least right now—as a new constituency survey conducted with more than 1,000 Christian households, shows. 

The second annual View from the Pew survey was conducted by Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International. It generated responses from 1,029 Christian households during the first half of 2010.  Brian Kluth, founder of this annual research and bestselling author of the Bible devotional said, "In this research we discovered that people families are learning how to stretch their resources in a difficult economy and job market, eliminate or avoid debts, and remain faithful in their giving. " 

1)   Incomes have flat-lined or declined for 77 percent of households

For many decades, people enjoyed rising incomes year after year.  But that picture has dramatically changed.  Positions have been eliminated, paychecks have gone away, pensions have gone down, and investment portfolios have been battered.  The result is that only 23 percent of households saw their family’s income increase from the previous 12 months. Meanwhile, 44 percent saw their income stay the same and 33 percent saw theirs go down.  Now more than ever, churches need to help people understand Biblical financial principles that will help lead them to wise financial practices. 

2) The majority of families have everything paid off except for their house

In the View from the Pew, the primary debt obligation for 64 percent of families is a home mortgage. Only 35 percent of households have car payments, and 70 percent of households actively pay off their credit cards in full every month.  The other debts people had included student loans (18 percent), medical bills (17 percent), home equity loans (15 percent), and/or family/personal loans (11 percent).  A growing number of people are learning to actively eliminate and avoid debt.


3)   This recession is touching the lives of loved ones and friends

This economic downturn is personal for many families.  In the survey, 96 percent said they personally know people who lost their job in the last year; 44 percent know people that moved away to find employment; and 30 percent personally know people who lost their home through foreclosure.  In any group of people there are always some with surplus, some that are stable, some that are struggling, and some that are sinking.   It is important that those who have surplus or are stable look for active ways to help those who are struggling or sinking.

4) Tithing and generosity start young and become a lifelong practice

For many people of faith, giving was learned early on and continues to be practiced as a priority in good times and in hard times.  Among survey responders that actively give 10 percent or more of their income to the Lord’s work, this practice was learned earlier in life rather than later.

When asked “What percent of income do you donate?” 22 percent said they give less than 10 percent of their income, 18 percent give 10 percent of their income, 42 percent give 11 to 15 percent of their income, 10 percent give 16 to 20 percent of their income, and 8 percent give more than 20 percent of their income.  For those that give 10 percent or more of their income, 27 percent started in their childhood/teen years, 33 percent started in their 20’s, 20 percent started in their 30’s, and only 20 percent started after the age of 40.

The survey also showed that 98 percent of people faithfully give to their local church, but they also generously support many other Christian and charitable causes.  Besides giving to their local church, here is a list of the top 10 places people gave in the past 12 months:

1.       Missions/Missionaries, 60 percent

2.      Crisis/Relief/Natural Disasters/Refugees, 45 percent

3.      Unemployed people they knew, 33 percent

4.      Local Community/Cultural/Sports/School Groups, 28 percent

5.      Denominations, 26 percent

6.      Homeless People/Beggars,25 percent

7.      Media/Radio/TV Ministries, 24 percent

8.      Evangelism/Evangelistic Crusades, 24 percent

9.      Students/Military Ministries,23 percent

10.   Rescue Missions/Homeless Ministries, 23 percent

When asked, “Who influenced your biblical understanding about how to manage your personal finances and giving?” respondents said: The late Larry Burkett, 54 percent; a church pastor, 46 percent; Dave Ramsey, 44 percent; Crown Financial Ministries, 44 percent; Parents, 41 percent; Brian Kluth, 35 percent; Randy Alcorn, 26 percent; and Ron Blue, 25 percent.

5) More Bible reading increases giving and reduces debt

Since survey participants came from Christian households, we asked questions about the frequency of their Bible reading to see if this spiritual discipline had any impact on their financial practices.  In the survey results, there was a direct correlation between how often respondents read the Bible and the amount they give and the amount of debt they carry.  Eighty-five percent who read the Bible 4 to 7 times per week are more than 2 times more likely to donate 10 percent or more of their income than those who do not read the Bible (40 percent). 

For those who read their Bible 7 times a week, they carried fewer debt obligations – 50 percent had mortgage payments, 31 percent had car payments, and 24 percent had credit card bills beyond 30 days old.  These percentages were much lower than those who never read their Bible – 80 percent had mortgage payments, 53 percent had car payments, and 53 percent had credit card bills beyond 30 days old. 

For more details/graphs on the View from the Pew research (and the companion research among 1000 churches on giving, budgets, and financial/generosity teaching), go to:

BRIAN KLUTH is a Pastor, Author, Researcher, and Radio Speaker for the eDevotional.  His bestselling 40 Day devotional has been used by over 1300 churches to inspire generosity and increase giving.  He also is the founder of website and free eNewsletter for pastors and church leaders.  Contact information: Cell: 719-930-4000.