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People’s Changing Financial World

For many decades, most Americans always thought that each year they would be doing a little better than the year before. Household income would regularly increase for most families through raises, bonuses, cost of living increases, overtime pay, and perks. Not anymore. Today we are living in a “new normal” as Americans learn to adjust on how to do more with less and to look to God as their Provider.

New research from over 1000 Christian households has shown that a “new normal”. The second annual View from the Pew, a collaborative research project by my Maximum Generosity ministry and Christianity Today International, received responses from 1,025 Christian households. Survey participants provided the following valuable insights into how the economy has impacted their employment, finances, debts, and giving/tithing.

Brian Kluth is a pastor, author, speaker, and media expert on generosity and church giving. His bestselling www.GenerousLife.org 40 Day Bible devotional has 400,000 copies in print, is being translated into 40 foreign languages, and has been used by over 1300 churches to inspire generosity and increase giving. Kluth’s www.MAXIMUMgenerosity.org website and free eNewsletters serve more than 12,000 leaders and pastors in over 150 countries and his www.GiveWithJoy.org radio stories and free eDevotional is used by over 200 Christian radio stations.

Incomes have flat-lined or declined for 77% of households

For many decades people have experienced rising incomes year after year. But that picture has dramatically changed. Some people’s positions have been eliminated, paychecks have gone away, pensions have gone down, and investment portfolios have been battered. The result is that only 23% households saw their family’s income increase from the previous 12 months, 44% of households saw their income stay the same, and 33% saw their household income go down. Now more than ever, we need to be people who look to God as their Provider.

Fortunately, God is bigger than job markets, stock markets, and housing markets. He owns all things, loans all things, and provides all things for His followers.

This recession is touching the lives of loved ones and friends

While most media focuses on eye-catching headlines and alarming statistics, this downturn in our economy is very up close and personal for many families. 96% personally know people that have LOST THEIR JOB in the last year, 44% know people that have HAD TO MOVE AWAY to find employment, and 30% personally know people that have LOST THEIR HOME through foreclosure. Galatians 6:2 in the NLT says, “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” In any group of people there are always some people with surplus, some that are stable, some that are struggling, and some that are sinking. It is important that those who have surplus or are stable look for active ways to those that are struggling or singing.

The majority of families have everything paid off except for their house

Crown Financial Ministries and others have helped reshape the debt/borrowing practices of thousands of Christian families. The main thing that most people (64%) are making payments on is their house mortgage. Only 35% of households have car payments . 70% of households actively pay off their credit cards in full every month. The other debts people had included student loans (18%), medical bills (17%), home equity loans (15%), and/or family/personal loans (11%). A growing number of people are learning to actively eliminate and avoid growing indebtedness.

Giving starts young and becomes a lifelong practice

For many people of faith who are faithful givers, giving was learned early on and continues to be practiced as a priority in good times and in hard times. Among survey responders that actively give 10% or more of their income to the LORD’s work, this practice was learned earlier in life rather than in their later years of life.

When asked “what % of income do you donate?” — 22% of survey responders indicated that they give less than 10% of their income, 18% give 10%, 42% give 11-15%, 10% give 16-20%, and 8% give over 20%. For those that give 10% or more of their income, 27% started in their childhood/teen years, 33% started in their 20’s, 20% started in their 30’s, and only 20% started after the age of 40.

When asked, “who influenced your Biblical understanding about how to manage your personal finances and giving?” — the late Larry Burkett was mentioned by 54% of responders, church pastor by 46%, Dave Ramsey by 44%, Crown Financial Ministries by 44%, parents by 41%, Brian Kluth by 35%, Randy Alcorn by 26%, and Ron Blue by 25%.

Our research showed that 98% of people faithfully give to their local church, but they also generously support many other Christian and charitable causes. Besides giving to their local church, here is a list of the top 10 places people gave in the past 12 months.
* 60% Missions/Missionaries
* 45% Crisis/Relief/Natural Disasters/Refugees
* 33% Unemployed people they knew
* 28% Local Community/Cultural/Sports/School Groups
* 26% Denominations
* 25% Homeless People/Beggars
* 24% Media/Radio/TV Ministries
* 24% Evangelism/Evangelistic Crusades
* 23% Students/Military Ministries
* 23% Rescue Missions/Homeless Ministries

While times are challenging for a growing number of people, it is great to know that God can guide us by His Word and provide for our needs as we trust Him and live for Him day by day.

Brian Kluth is a pastor, author, speaker, and media expert on generosity and church giving. His bestselling www.GenerousLife.org 40 Day Bible devotional has 400,000 copies in print, is being translated into 40 foreign languages, and has been used by over 1300 churches to inspire generosity and increase giving. Kluth’s www.MAXIMUMgenerosity.org website and free eNewsletters serve more than 12,000 leaders and pastors in over 150 countries and his www.GiveWithJoy.org radio stories and free eDevotional is used by over 200 Christian radio stations.

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