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The Secrets of a Giving Church

By member size, the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) is no powerhouse. Its membership of 251,727 is 16 million fewer than the Southern Baptist Convention, and it's about a tenth the size of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

But the CRC is no second-string player when it comes to members' giving. A new report found that CRC members gave 6.1 percent of their incomes to the church.

That's significantly less than the biblical "tithe" (tenth). But it's dramatically higher than other Protestant denominations' giving. In its most recent survey, the giving research firm empty tomb inc. found that members in eight other denominations belonging to the National Association of Evangelicals gave, on average, 3.7 percent of their income. Denominations belonging to the National Council of Churches did even worse, with members giving 2.6 percent.

The CRC wasn't part of empty tomb's survey, but the new figures were published in June's Spiritual and Social Trends and Patterns in the Christian Reformed Church in North America, from Calvin College's Center for Social Research. And while CRC researcher and Barnabas Foundation consultant Rodger Rice is quick to observe that comparing statistics—especially medians to means—can be messy, he doesn't discount the CRC's strong record of generosity. Giving rates weathered the economic crash; the last CRC survey reported the same median number in 2007.

While celebrating existing stewardship, the CRC wants to make such rates sustainable in the long term. The survey also queried members on their personal and congregational spiritual health (tracking 11 priorities like "centrality of the Bible" ...

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September 2013

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