Young Evangelicals and Financial Giving: Is There Hope for the Future of Missions?
Presenter: Lynn Cooper, Professor of Communications, Wheaton College
Original Air Date: February 21, 2013
Christians worldwide are generally perceived as being generous with both their time and money in supporting the work of missions. Accurate giving habits are difficult to determine from IRS reports,household surveys, government records, or denominational receipts, and some evidence exists to suggest that American Christians are not reaching their potential for influence and change in proportion to their economic means to do so. But while generosity levels are disputed, there is one clear area of agreement among those who study charitable giving: generous parents tend to have generous children. As parents tell their children how and why they give, they encourage their development into adults who will generously give later. Research was conducted* to identify factors that might influence giving as well as determine where and how these students from evangelical backgrounds preferred to give. Participants were asked to complete an online survey, and 839 students did so. The study also addressed the kind of donor care needed for this population. While these so-called emerging adults perceived themselves to be in a tight financial situation, they were not apathetic toward the plight of others. Evangelical students demonstrated a strong interest in tithing and stewardship, had previous experiences that gave them an awareness of and appreciation for people and cultures, and were already learning how to channel their values and passion in tangible ways. The study supports the idea that Evangelical students should be taken seriously as both intellectual and financial partners in long-term planning by missionaries and their sponsoring agencies, although the approach to these potential donors must differ.