Christians who regularly attend church are more likely than non-Christians to say they were taught generosity and also more likely to say they have experienced generosity in their own lives, according to a new Barna survey.
The poll of 2,016 U.S. adults found that 79 percent of “practicing” Christians say they were taught generosity by someone, while only 58 percent of non-Christians answered that way. Barna defines “practicing Christians” as believers who attend a religious service at least once a month and say their faith is very important in their lives. Among all U.S. adults, 65 percent say they were taught how to be generous by someone.
“Practicing Christians are … significantly more likely to say principles of generosity were taught to them,” a Barna analysis of the data said. “... This emphasizes how church communities can be hubs for generous activity. Churches can follow the example of Paul by both encouraging and showcasing generosity in their congregations.”
Meanwhile, 65 percent of practicing Christians say they have been the recipient of someone’s “extraordinary” generosity, compared to 41 percent of non-Christians and 46 percent of all U.S. adults who answered that way. The Barna analysis said there are two possible explanations for this gap. First, because practicing Christians are “more likely to be around other practicing Christians,” there is a “great chance for someone to be both a participant in and recipient of generous community.” Second, practicing Christians “may be more apt to notice generosity in their everyday life.”
“The Church puts great emphasis on the topics of generosity and gratitude (in fact, nearly three-quarters of practicing Christians say their pastor often speaks from the pulpit on generosity),” the Barna analysis said. “It is possible that greater awareness is a result of higher priority.”
The Barna data is part of a new report, Why Giving Is Good, which is the third volume in Barna’s The State of Generosityseries.
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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.