Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money

by Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson. Oxford University Press, 2008.
Large passing the plate

Stingy and Christian just don’t seem like words that should go together, yet authors and sociologists Christian Smith and Michael Emerson explain they unfortunately do. Passing the Plate provides statistics to prove their point; but the book doesn’t stop there. It analyzes why American Christians are so un-giving, what could happen in the world if they were more generous, and what congregational leaders can do to increase the generosity of their parishioners. The book identifies several key factors that effect religious giving: the powerful allure of consumerism and its impact on Americans' priorities, parishioners' suspicions of waste and abuse, clergy's hesitations to boldly ask for money, and the lack of structure and routine in the way most American Christians give. In their conclusion, Smith (Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame) and Emerson (Professor of Sociology at Rice University), suggest practical steps that clergy and lay leaders might take to counteract these tendencies and better educate their congregations about the transformative effects of generous giving.

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