Good Steward Newsletter – July 2008
Giving to Religion is Closely Tied to Participation
What does weekly Mass attendance have to do with weekly giving? Would Catholics’ financial support for the parish or diocese increase if they were more involved in the Church’s prayer and work?
Independent research into giving to religious organizations of diverse Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths suggests that active involvement is the single most important factor in giving to faith-based causes or organizations. This represents a significant challenge at a time when research conducted by Indiana University’s Center On Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS) shows that “religious giving and attendance at weekly services have declined in general across the nation, and younger generations attend services less frequently.”
According to Bill Enright, who directs the Center On Philanthropy’s Lake Institute On Faith and Giving, the decline in attendance at places of worship can be attributed to what researchers call “the loss of the Sabbath.” Because fewer people today set aside a sacred day for worship, presence and participation have declined and, proportionately, so has financial support.
COPPS researchers compared two different generations of donors’ giving patterns over a 40-year period. The results are conclusive. It doesn’t matter which religious tradition is represented. The more often people attend their synagogue, church or mosque, and participate in its mission, the more generous they are in their financial support.
These independent research findings, which are reported in The Center On Philanthropy’s most recent issue of Philanthropy Matters (Volume 16, Issue 1, 2008), underscore the close relationship that exists between evangelization and stewardship (or between active engagement in the life of the Church and the willingness to share generously with others). To the extent that Catholics (and people of all faiths) are present and active, they give themselves-time, talent and treasure-to support the Church’s mission. It’s as simple (and as complex) as that.
We do not preach the Gospel (evangelization) or teach of the joy of giving (stewardship) in order to increase financial support. But we also cannot ignore the fact that active engagement is critical to mission advancement. If we want to grow the resources that are needed to carry out the Church’s mission, we must find new ways to involve Catholics of all ages and from diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds in the worship and the ministry of their Church.
This is stewardship in action-providing concrete opportunities for individuals and families to share their gifts of time, talent and treasure with others in Jesus’ name.
|Copyright © 2008, Daniel Conway
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