The new empty tomb book documents that church members have potential power for good available through increased giving. To tap this power, empty tomb is seeking venture philanthropists to help mobilize its project Mission Match, through which congregations can help reach target reduction goals in the rate of children dying around the globe by 2025. As Jesus told first-century disciples to feed the crowd of hungry people, empty tomb asks if Jesus is now telling venture-philanthropist Christians to heal the children.
The new empty tomb book finds never-before-available power for good among church people in America.
The State of Church Giving through 2018 finds that member giving to churches was 2.05% of after-tax income in 2018, far below the classic “tithe” or 10%.
For every additional percent of income church members increased toward the tithe, those members would give $69.7 billion more.
Church members in the U.S. are not aware of this power for good. For example, 1.2 million children under the age of five are dying each year around the globe from treatable causes readily addressed in much of the world (see Fig. 21). In a calculation from available data, empty tomb estimates it would take $16 billion a year to stop these deaths between now and 2025. If church members were to combine their donations, it would take less than one-quarter of a percent of each church member’s income to provide the necessary money.
Yet the individual church member asks, “What difference would my giving make?”
And so the children continue to die.
What to do?
The research of empty tomb documents the existence of the affluence spread among Americans, including church members. And Mission Match is a tool designed by empty tomb to act on this hidden power for good on a scale with global need.
The affluence in the U.S. and the rest of the world is a relatively recent development, according to the analysis of Angus Maddison, in The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective. Beginning with the year 0 A.D., only in 1820 did countries’ economies begin to grow at more than 0.5% a year, and in 1870 at more than 1%.
Further, in the U.S., the growing affluence spread broadly after World War II. An empty tomb analysis using available data calculated that 40% of U.S. urban consumer units lived below what would have been the poverty level in 1941. By 1960, the figure was 13%.
Still, while most Americans are what might be called the regular rich, who now enjoy benefits of this widespread affluence — air conditioning, vehicles, the variety of foods available, travel — there are some who are the extraordinarily rich, having access to many times the 2018 average U.S. per capita income of $48,147.
And empty tomb has concluded that these extraordinarily rich people are in a position to give leadership to the regular rich toward tapping their power for good.
Back in the first century, when the disciples were faced with 5,000+ people, they told Jesus to send the crowd away. Jesus instead gave the responsibility back to them: “You feed them.” The disciples protested that it would take eight months of a person’s wages. Then Jesus told them to find out what they had to work with. When they presented the five loaves and two fish, Jesus expanded that resource to feed the entire group (Mark 6:30-44).
Today, the church, also referred to as the body of Christ, is supposed to carry on the work of Jesus. Unlike the disciples who traveled with Jesus who had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58), church people in the U.S. are often the regular rich, compared to much of the world.
Yet, when faced with the 1.2 million children under age five dying each year from treatable causes, church members seem to echo the early disciples: “Are we to go and spend that much … and give it to them …?” (Mark 6:37).
Back then, Jesus gave the original disciples the responsibility of feeding the crowd of 5,000+. Today, it’s reasonable to think that this same Jesus is giving the many more and richer disciples the responsibility to heal the under-5 children. The potential is there among church members. It needs to be mobilized.
And empty tomb has a suggestion through its tool, Mission Match. A list of the extraordinarily rich is compiled each year in the Forbes 400. This list does not indicate whether a person considers himself or herself a disciple of Jesus. Names on the list include Warren Buffett, MacKenzie Scott, Alice Walton, Charles Koch, and Lukas Walton, among others.
A group on this list, who consider themselves disciples of Jesus and acting as venture philanthropists, could provide the leadership needed to encourage church people to take action through empty tomb’s Mission Match. By providing the first-year amount of $9.412 billion, these leaders can set a direction for the 300,000+ historically Christian congregations in the U.S. When congregations match up to $8 billion of the first-year donations, 85% of the venture philanthropists’ donations would be doubled and provide the needed $16 billion. In following years, the support base for the matching contributions is scheduled to expand, requiring less from the original donors.
Through Mission Match, congregations design mission projects to target one of the 22 treatable causes of death in children under five in one of 40 countries. According to empty tomb calculations, these 40 countries were not on target to help meet the 2015 target reduction goal set for reducing the global Under-5 Mortality Rate deaths. The congregations also propose the delivery channel through which they want to work, in Jesus’ name, to help prevent these deaths.
At this point, each congregation can apply for up to $3,000 for their project. Once approved, the congregation raises, from those within their local church, at least an equal amount, and then the congregation spends the combined money on the project named in their application.
Churches can learn more about how to apply for these matching contributions at missionmatch.org.
Venture philanthropists interested in providing leadership for church members to act on their power for good on behalf of the dying children can contact empty tomb directly.
The discussion of the potential numbers appears in The State of Church Giving through 2018: What If Jesus Comes Back in 2025? (30th edition, Dec. 2020), available at Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Economic growth analysis by Angus Maddison: Angus Maddison; The World Economy, A Millennial Perspective; OECD; 2001; p. 263 accessed 5/30/2021.
Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans: “The Forbes 400: The Definitive Ranking Of The Wealthiest Americans in 2020“; edited by Kerry A. Dolan with Chase Peterson-Withorn and Jennifer Wang
This release is the latest in the recent empty tomb series. Following is a list of the previous releases:
April 13, 2021:
April 20, 2021:
April 27, 2021:
May 4, 2021:
May 11, 2021:
May 18, 2021:
May 25, 2021:
June 1, 2021:
June 8, 2021:
empty tomb, inc.
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