New data reveals that churches have the financial power to end child deaths. But because of sinking tithing income, 10 nations across the globe are making zero progress in reducing the painstakingly high child mortality rate.
The Christian Post interviewed Sylvia Ronsvalle who alongside husband Jon authored "The State of Church Giving through 2009”, a composite that analyzed tithing numbers from 1921.
“More and more is being spent inside of the church and less is going out for benevolence for international missions, local missions and everything outside,” said Ronsvalle whose new is being released by faith research and church renewal group Empty Tomb.
According to the United Nation Millennium Development Goals, there are eight main expansion goals set in place to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. One goal is to reduce the number of child deaths by two-thirds of children under five in 68 countries by 2015.
According to Empty Tomb’s research, tithing has been shrinking amongst the 300,000 Christian congregations in the United States.
Ronsvalle told CP, “If church members actually gave 10 percent instead of 2.38 percent of income (the average) then there would have been an additional $174 billion going through the Church.”
According to Unicef.org, 9.7 million children died in 2006 before they reached their fifth birthday.
Experts have estimated a carefully applied $5 billion a year could reduce child deaths across the globe where children under five are dying from preventable causes like phenomena, diarrhea and neo natal causes in countries where a majority of the populations are Christian.
“We see this great potential for giving,” said Ronsvalle, Empty Tomb vice president who attributes the stall in progress to a lack of visionary leadership in the church and overall distractions in life.
According to Ronsvalle, people have become comfortable with being overwhelmed.
“We are just so overwhelmed that we have to look at the world’s problems with the view that God is able to do more than we ask for and imagine. Let’s cooperate for Him,” said Ronsvalle who says church giving boils down to an individual’s humility level.
Study authors found that per member giving was down from 2008 to 2009, possibly impacted by the recession. However, the downturn reflects a long-term decrease in giving as a percent of income to churches. For example, between 1968 and 2009, per member giving as a portion of income declined in both evangelical and mainline churches.
“It’s just not an attractive message,” said Ronsvalle who told CP that churches are too focused on internal maintenance.
“It doesn’t give people an alternative to the consumerism of the world,” said Ronsvalle as she pointed CP to thought provoking statistics like how the Rudd Institute reports that Americans spend $11.7 billion a year on soft drinks alone.
According to Empty Tomb’s analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey 2009, Americans gave 74 percent of their donations to church and religious organizations as the U.S. remains a highly religious nation despite decreasing levels of church giving especially as it relates to child deaths.
“It’s not our only responsibly but it definitely is our responsibly,” Ronsvalle said.