Monday, 10 June 2013

Crisis Generosity

Why do ordinary Christians seem to be more open handed with money than the wealthy churches they sometimes attend?

In the film ‘The Shoes of the Fisherman’ (1968), a fictional Catholic pope decides to give away the Catholic Church’s riches to avert a war and help the poor. In real life this kind of radical action doesn’t tend to happen. Open hands can be rare in a world which puts such a high value on money and such a low value on human life.

Perhaps this is how the real world always works.

Asking naive questions like: “Why do things have to be this way?” is often the cause for derision. If you ever ask a church leader why any denomination isn't more generous, you may get the classic 'leadership' response: “You go first”.

But this isn’t the whole story. A recent study by the researchers ‘State of the Plate’ found that secret giving is a healthy pastime for many ordinary Western Christians. They found that those who regularly give to their churches also tend to give to many other causes. And they found that these people often secretly give money to the homeless, child sponsorship and natural disaster crisis appeals.

'State of the Plate' research findings

Of course no-one knows for sure how many others give secretly.

I’m not saying that every church denomination refuses to give money to the needy. What I am saying is that it seems that ordinary believers are taking the lead and doing what the church authorities are only preaching about.

Nick White is a freelance writer and journalist. His website is

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