An overwhelming majority of American Protestant churchgoers say tithing is a biblical command, although they are divided on what it constitutes, according to a new Lifeway Research survey.
The poll found that 77 percent of Protestant churchgoers say they agree that “tithing is a biblical command that still applies today,” a slight decrease from the 83 percent who affirmed the statement in 2017.
Just over half (51 percent) of churchgoers say they give at least 10 percent to the church they attend. Another 16 percent say they regularly give less than a tithe, while 22 percent answered, “I try to give, but I am not always consistent.”
“Giving 10 percent of your earnings to God is still a widespread standard among churchgoers,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “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.”
Among those churchgoers who believe tithing is applicable for today, 90 percent say tithe money can be given to their own local church, while 55 percent say tithe money can be given to a Christian ministry. Other possible answers included an individual in need (42 percent), “another church I don’t regularly attend” (34 percent) and a secular charity (25 percent).
Meanwhile, 53 percent of those who give money to their church give cash at church, while 30 percent use a check at church. All total, 62 percent of Protestant churchgoers who give money say they do not use any electronic giving method, while 35 percent do.
“Believing God wants you to tithe and doing it are two different things,” McConnell said. “Some who do not tithe are consistent with their giving at a lower threshold, and others give when they feel they are able. Like many exhortations in Scripture, giving your finances to God is not necessarily easy in practice.”
The survey, released Tuesday, was based on interviews with 1,,002 American Protestant churchgoers.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.