Top 10 cities where most generous Christians live: Barna study

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Unsplash/Allef Vinicius

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Barna Group has identified the top 10 cities in America where the most generous practicing Christians live.

The California-based organization, which has been tracking cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors for 35 years, identified the most giving markets in the United States, both in terms of nonprofit and church contributions.

When it comes to both church and nonprofit giving, three cities in southeast Idaho — Pocatello, Idaho Falls, and Jackson — topped the list. In these cities, practicing Christians give an average of $17,977 to nonprofits and $15,601 to churches every year.

Barna’s findings corroborate other studies highlighting Idaho as a generous state: Wallet Hub found Idaho to be the third-most generous state when it comes to charitable giving, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy found Idahoans give more than residents of every surrounding state except Utah.

For nonprofit giving, Las Vegas, Nevada, ranked second, with Christians in that city giving a yearly average of $10,410 to charity. Victoria, Texas, ranked third, with Christians giving $10,375 annually, followed by Ottumwa and Kirksville, Iowa, ($10,000) and Jonesboro, Arkansas, ($7,999).

Cities that rounded out the top 10 “most generous” when it comes to nonprofit giving included: Twin Falls, Idaho, ($7,636); North Platte, Nebraska, ($6,764); Lake Charles, Louisiana, ($6,200); Salisbury, Maryland, $6,125; and Wheeling and Steubenville, West Virginia, ($5,735).

For church giving, Ottumwa and Kirksville, Iowa, ranked second, with the average Christian tithing $9,600 annually. Victoria, Texas, again ranked third, with Christians giving an average of $8,984 to churches. Jonesboro, Arkansas, came in fourth ($7,999) and Las Vegas, Nevada, ranked fifth ($5,379).

Other cities identified as giving generously to churches included: North Platte, Nebraska, ($5,235); Scottsbluff and Cheyenne, Nebraska, ($5,000); Wheeling and Steubenville, West Virginia, ($4,663); Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, ($4,544), and Nashville, Tennessee, ($4,433).

A previous study from the Barna Group, which looked at the drivers of Christian generosity, found that regular church attendance has a definite bearing on an individual’s giving goals.

The 2017 study found that 57 percent of Christians who attended a worship service within the past week were givers, compared to 45 percent of Christians who did not.

“There is virtually no daylight between those who attended within the past month (44 percent are givers) and those for whom it has been longer than six months (45 percent); only weekly church involvement appears to make a significant difference,” it noted.

Barna also found that 56 percent of millennials, 55 percent of elders, 50 percent of Boomers and 46 percent of Gen-Xers are givers. And, 37 percent of Gen-Xers, 35 percent of millennials, 33 percent of Boomers and 25 percent of elders are keepers.

"Givers are also more likely to say their faith is very important in their life and to say they sense God actively involved in their day-to-day life," the study said. "Christians with giving goals give a lot, and Christians with keeping goals give less or not at all. In short: Motivations matter."

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