When disasters strike, we Americans are often lauded for our generosity. And it's easy to see why. When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Americans gave $1.3 billion to U.S. relief organizations. When a tsunami hit the South Pacific in 2004, we gave $1.6 billion toward relief efforts. However, when viewed through the filter of biblical teaching on generosity, even a casual glance at how much the average Christian gives each year paints a very different picture. What follows are some of the key numbers presented in the book, Passing the Plate:

Many Christians Give Nothing

22% of all who describe themselves as Christians give nothing to charitable organizations of any kind. The picture improves when looking at Christians who attend church 2-3 times per month. Among such "regular attending" Christians, 5% give nothing. Taking a deeper cut at the numbers related to regular churchgoers, 8% of Catholics, 3% of Protestants, and less than 1% of evangelical Protestants give nothing to charity.

Most Christians Give Less Than 10%

77% of regular attending Protestants give less than 10% of pre-tax income to charity. So, less than one-quarter (23%) of regular attending Protestants give 10% or more to charity. That picture improves a bit when looking at evangelical Protestants, among whom 30% give 10% or more. Another study, "The State of Church Giving," put together by an organization called Empty Tomb, reports that the average church member (across numerous Protestant denominations) gave 2.3% of after-tax income in 2011.

A Small Pocket of Very Generous Givers

But the news is actually worse when you consider that a small percentage of believers give most of what's given. Of all Christian givers, "Passing The Plate" reports that the most generous 5% give 60% of all the dollars contributed. The most generous 25% give 90% of all the dollars given. So, the amount given by the average giver is skewed higher by the generous giving done by a small minority of givers.

The $64,000 Question

The key question is, "Why?" Why do so many Christians give so little? In a future post we'll look at some of the hypotheses for "ungenerous giving" among Christians considered by the authors of "Passing the Plate." For now, what do you think? Why do so many Christians give so little?