Everyone is busy. We seem to live in an age where “activities” fill our time. Like most people, Christians often admit having a hard time serving others. This despite it being a central tenant of the faith.
New polling taken by LifeWay Research research finds the problem escalating whether it be in giving financially, or of one’s time.
In their 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study, the Nashville, Tennessee-based LifeWay found that less than half of Protestant churchgoers surveyed said they intentionally give up certain purchases so they can use that money to help others.
According to LifeWay, 41 percent of respondents reported agreeing to give up certain purchases so they could use the money for other people. Thirty-two percent were neutral and 27 percent disagreed.
LifeWay noted that younger churchgoers were more likely to “strongly agree” to intentionally give up purchases, with 22 percent of churchgoers aged 18-34 saying they “strongly agree,” versus 18 percent for those aged 35-49, 12 percent of those aged 50-64, and 8 percent of those aged 65 and above.
Broken down racially, Hispanics were the most likely to “strongly agree” at 25 percent, versus 17 percent for African-Americans and 12 percent for Caucasians.
LifeWay also found that 62 percent of respondents agreed to intentionally trying to serve people outside of their church who have tangible needs, with 25 percent responding that they “strongly agree.”
Three-quarters of regular Protestant churchgoers (74 percent) see their acts of service as a way to also get to know others. A full third (33%) strongly agree that when they have the opportunity to serve someone, they also try to get to know the person better.
Women (35%) are more likely to strongly agree than men (30 percent), while Hispanic churchgoers (45 percent) are the ethnic group most likely to strongly agree.
Again, Hispanics were the group most likely to “strongly agree” at 38 percent, with African-Americans at 29 percent and Caucasians at 21 percent.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said in a statement released last week that the report shows that many Protestants are not following Jesus’ call to service, as seen in Bible verses like Matthew 23:11.
“Many churchgoers profess faith in Jesus Christ, but are not putting that faith into action,” stated McConnell. “Jesus set an example for His followers through both the beliefs He taught and the way He served others.”
For its research, LifeWay drew upon an online survey of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers conducted Jan. 14-29, with a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
Last month, a study commissioned by the marketing and fundraising firm Dunham+Company found that 71 percent of evangelicals reported giving to charitable organizations annually.
Who is most likely to give money?
As expected, with child-rearing behind them and often holding little debt, “boomers and matures” (78 percent) were the generational groups most likely to report giving to charities on an annual basis, versus millennial evangelicals at 68 percent and Generation X evangelicals at 63 percent. That study was done by Dunham+Company.
“Millennials are often believed to be disengaged in their faith, but this study shows that those Millennials who identify as evangelicals are more engaged in their faith than other generations,” said Dunham+Company founder Rick Dunham in a statement last month.
“This mirrors our study from 2017 which showed that Millennials generally are as likely to engage in religious attendance compared to other generations, with this current study showing a much higher engagement among those who identify as Evangelicals.”
Not surprisingly, the study found that hose who attend worship services four times a month or more (35 percent) are more likely to strongly agree than those who attend less frequently (28 percent).
“It is easy to get a ‘fix-it’ mentality when serving,” said McConnell. “While there is most definitely a practical aspect to service, there is also a personal element. Without caring to know the person you are helping, a church’s service lacks the love that is at the heart of all Christian service.”
Serving God and others is one of eight signposts measured in the Discipleship Pathway Assessment and addressed in LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. For more information, visit DiscipleshipPathwayAssessment.com.