The Problem of Understanding Church Giving

Hoge, Dean. "The Problem of Understanding Church Giving." Review of Religious Research, 36, no. 2 (December 1994): 101-110.

Hoge introduces this special issue of the Review of Religious Research, entitled "Patterns of Financial Contributions to Churches" and focuses on the complex facets of church giving, by describing the basic assumptions and findings cutting across the individual contributions. 1) Religious giving is rational behavior and can be modeled using existing sociological and economic methods. 2) People strongly committed to God and God's promises will give more to the church. 3) Church members who have more discretionary income will, on average, give more to the church. 4) The distribution of the amount of money given by members of any church is highly skewed -- the majority of a church's money comes from a minority of its members. 5) The amount of money potentially available to churches from members is a variable, not a fixed, sum. Hoge concludes that both individual and social factors influence the amounts members give to churches. These factors are examined in greater detail in the articles of this special issue. All of the articles in the volume are based on secondary analyses of data collected for other purposes. (SM)