While American consumers continue to worry about jobs and paying the bills, 7 in 10 Christian households reported in a recently published survey that they actively pay off their credit cards in full every month and nearly 8 of 10 Christian households said they continue to give ten percent or more of their income to local churches and ministries.
"It's a sign that a growing number of people are learning to actively eliminate and avoid debt," remarked Brian Kluth with Maximum Generosity, which conducted the second annual "View from the Pew" survey in cooperation with Christianity Today International.
The survey results, to be announced Monday, are "hopeful signs" for Christian households, say Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International, which earlier this year revealed the results of the second annual "State of the Plate" survey.
If reflective of the general trend, the results would also be an encouragement to churches across the country – nearly 40 percent of which revealed in the earlier survey that they had experienced a decline in giving and offerings in 2009.
After the October 2008 stock market drop, the "State of the Plate" survey found that 29 percent of churches had reportedly experienced a decline in giving and last year the number climbed up to 38 percent of churches.
"Multiple research projects last year documented the sharp decline in church giving and our research this year shows things have only gotten worse for a growing number of churches," Kluth had reported back in March.
Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International were more upbeat after seeing the results of its latest "View from the Pew" survey, however, noting the relationship between the economic state of Christian households and that of giving trends reported by church leaders
After interviewing 1,029 Christian households across America in the first half of 2010, Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International found through their latest survey that only 23 percent had seen their family's income increase from the previous 12 months. Meanwhile, 44 percent of households saw their income stay the same and 33 percent saw their income go down.
Still, 78 percent of those surveyed said they continue to give 10 percent or more of their income to local churches and ministries.
When asked when they learned this practice, 60 percent said it was before age 30.
"This shows tithing and generosity start young and become a lifelong practice," Kluth said.
Kluth launched the "State of the Plate" research project in 2008. This year, Christianity Today International partnered with Kluth to launch the second annual "State of the Plate" project, which surveyed more than 1,000 church leaders.
The research aims to capture "true benchmarks, statistics, and trend lines that can help church leaders know how to understand changing economic realities that are different from the past, and help church leaders find proven solutions as they face growing financial challenges."