20 $omething$

Business_odyssey_037 Here’s something I read this morning that didn’t surprise me…but saddened me. “Only 3 out of 10 twentysomethings donated to a church in the past year, which is half the proportion of older adults (30 percent to 61 percent). (While twentysomethings generally have smaller income levels than their older counterparts, this measure has nothing to do with how much the person donates, but whether they contribute financially at all to churches.”

Why do you think this is?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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7 thoughts on “20 $omething$

  1. Im going with debt. The kids are being introduced to another Master. If the kid didnt grow up in a church they come out of high school or college already controlled by debt.
    Another one is programs available at churches. Churches seem to always have youth programs and family programs, but what about people that are caught in between?

  2. Bowser… good post… all of your points are good…here’s my 2 cents…as a 20’s/30’s guy…in response to each of the points you make….
    1. While we are filled with anxiety…so is everyone else. We tend to think ours is more acute…in reality, we just manage it more poorly.
    2. There is no doubt that many 20’s/30’s have left the building. But, statistically, we don’t give anywhere else either…
    3. Agreed. However, at some point, we’ll have to stop blaming our parents and grow up.
    4. This is a good point, but church-related giving still currently comprises nearly 80% of all charitable giving…so someone’s giving to church. What ticks me off about our generation in particular is that we often make the most demands of the church, and give the least (money or otherwise). Obviously, this is a generalization. There are many young adults who are among the most selfless in any church, organization, etc.
    Again…great post…hope you’re loving Nashville…

  3. In defense of twenty-somethings (I am one : ) – I don’t think we are any more deluded by the illusive happiness of materialism than our predecessors, the baby-boomers, who taught us everything we know about needing “stuff” and, in many cases, continue to be our suppliers.
    I see several reasons for the average twentysomething’s reluctance to give at church. I think I can speak with relative authority given the fact that I am a twenty-something who isn’t quite sure what to do about the whole issue of giving. : ) I offer these as explanations, not excuses.
    1) We twenty-somethings are, as a group, riddled with anxiety (about finances, life choices, career, marital status, etc.) — and not necessarily because of debt or bad decisions. Anxiety in any form is binding, and a bound person is not free to give, financially, emotionally, or otherwise. This is something of a paradox, because giving helps to free us up. We need to find small ways (baby steps) to start breaking out of the chains. I hope the church can be instructive, compassionate, and encouraging in this regard – leading by example and through the daily grit of personal relationships and not by extending an impersonal burden of guilt from the pulpit onto a generation of people already burdened with self-doubt and fear. Generosity breeds generosity. Collective generosity and opportunities to give TOGETHER, even more so.
    2) Some of us are disillusioned with the institutional church (often for good reasons) and so we have either left the building and found other ways to give of ourselves (peace corps, education, nursing, other public service professions), or we would rather contribute financially to development organizations and other groups that seem to be making more of a tangible difference (whether they actually are or not) in the here-and-now daily lives of people who are in trouble. The church has often failed to provide a relevant response to what we see in our lives and the world around us, and as a result we may choose not to support it financially. This actually makes good logical sense.
    3) Our parents did not teach us much about learning to live without, and so we are either slowly learning that lesson the hard way (and taking small steps in the right direction) or floundering in the wake of poor financial choices made to try and maintain an unrealistic standard of living carried over from our adolesence.
    4) Twenty-somethings are naturally selfish human beings just like everyone else. No surprise there, right? We want lattes and ipods and air-conditioned cars, and we want to be able to drive those cars in all the glory of American suburban sprawl (where most American Christians seem to live). Consumerism is everywhere, and it wears very clever masks. We are all guilty.
    I think a more important question than “why aren’t 20-somethings giving to churches” may be “why don’t 20-somethings (and 30, 40, and 50 somethings) WANT to give to churches?” The church’s willingness to engage in honest self-evaluation may help to resolve this issue.
    Those are my two cents, anyway. I’ll save the other 98 for another day. : )

  4. 20-somethings represent the most un-churched population group in America. In fact, those statistics match up to church attendance statistics that say about 1/3 of all the single adults in America attend church with any regularity while nearly 2/3 of all the married couples with elementary-aged children attend church.
    Many of those 20-somethings went to church as kids and dropped out when they moved out of the house (because they couldn’t figure out how church had anything to do with their real life). The rest have never been part of a church community.
    So, many of them don’t know why they should give money to a church.

  5. I would guess there are two reasons:
    1. The twenty-somethings are probably already getting their lives messed up by debt.
    2. The devil’s lie (materialism) has convinced them that they need “stuff” now and titheing becomes almost impossible.
    These two are very closely related, obviously.