Who are More Generous…Men or Women?
by mark-macdonald | August 6, 2013
A few years ago I saw a funny cartoon in a magazine that showed a man sitting in his pastor’s office asking him, “Pastor, my wife and I want to know how much we need to financially give to the church to be in good steads?” The pastor looks at him and says, “Well that depends on how much you want to give and how much your wife wants to give (he says with a smile on his face).” We certainly can appreciate the attempt of the pastor to discover the motivations of the parishioner and his wife, but probably not appreciate the theological lens or the approach he employed.
In any case, there are several interesting dynamics going on in this light cartoon that we can muse over when we study the generosity of men and women in the church. Some of the inferences of the differences in the cartoon affirm some interesting trends and insights we are learning from our church assessment engagements and the “How Generous Are We?” Church Assessment. The research is telling us that men and women are quite different when they think about their own generosity and their commitment to it in a church setting. Their mindset, motivation and passions for being generous can vary significantly in a church—even when they are married. Secondly, we are discovering that both genders react differently to the “tithe” and the financial giving approaches of most churches. Men tend to resonate more to the parameters of the “10% tithe” than the women do in a church. Another way to say this is that men tend to give more consistently when they know the expected level for their giving. They also do not tend as much to deviate from the tithe level. Women, on the other hand, prefer to be led more out of the inspiration or the “spirit” movement of a moment. We have found that they tend to be less motivated by the level or a goal for financial giving and more driven by the prompting or purpose they feel in a specific giving situation. Just these two insights alone are enough to ask important questions about how well church leadership teams are distinctly engaging men and women in the church when it comes to giving. (Stay tuned for this topic in subsequent blogs.)
Lastly, one of the unifying elements that men and women share is their propensity to be more generous when they are driven by a clear and passionate vision for their giving. There is no doubt from the research that is one of the most vital indicators of growing a generous heart in a church that “excels in the grace of giving.”
So…who are more generous…men or women? Well…I have to admit that I asked a trick question here. The answer is that they both exhibit in-common levels of generosity in a church when compared to each other. The key phrase here is, “in a church.” Other research shows that women tend to be more generous than men when they give to other charitable organizations—significantly more generous I should say. However, perhaps the better question to ask for this case (and what we will reveal in subsequent blogs is), “how should we create and shape the best environments and discipleship strategies where both men and women can excel in their own way to reach their greatest capacity of being exceedingly generous?” How can men excel more? How can women excel more? Why do they give so much more in other charitable situations? These questions, we believe, will lead to some new revelations for the church and the way it unleashes generosity. Stay tuned…
Mark MacDonald serves on the Generous Church team as a Generosity Infusion Strategist and is also the founder and CEO of Canterbury Partners. He is the designer and developer of the “How Generous Are We?” church assessment and the “8-Point Cultivating Generosity Ladder.” He lives along with his wife Patty in New England where together they are involved in encouraging the generous visions and resource development for leaders and organizations that seek to find unique ways to make the Kingdom of God more relevant and revolutionary.
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