Christians and Tipping



Every other summer, the ministry I work for invades the college town of Fort Collins, CO. For the months of June and July, about 1000 of us (and our many children) come live and study on or near the campus of Colorado State University. During the last week of July, another 4000 (again, plus kids) join us.

It’s impossible not to notice us. At the apartment complex where my family is living, for example: Even though a remnant of college students stay here for summer school, the security guards are much more concerned about kids riding their scooters too fast (and too early in the morning) through the parking lot full of minivans than they are about having to shut down a late night party that got a little too rambunctious.

The local merchants have mixed feelings about our biannual arrival. Some look forward to the increase in business and even hang welcome signs for us in their windows.

Others, not so much. Last week one of my friends overheard one server at a restaurant say to another, “Oh no, the Christians are coming. Here comes a summer of bad tips.” 

I just groan when I hear that. I mean, this is from wait staff who work in a college town. How did it get to the point where we tip less than college students?

But it’s true. I know, because before I became a Christian I waited tables at Applebee’s. Sunday lunch was always the worst shift to work. Christians always brought their noisy, mess-making kids to eat with them after church. They don’t order alcoholic beverages, so their tab (and therefore the amount they tip on) stays small, even though they took up one of your biggest tables. Instead they order water. With lemon. And then to top it all off, the percentage they tip is hands down the lowest of any other segment of society.

Christians, it ought not to be! Anyone who knows me is aware of how cheap frugal I usually am. God calls all believers to be good stewards of the money He entrusts to them. But tipping those who serve us is NOT the time to be frugal! We should be known as the most generous patrons a restaurant serves.

Here is my personal opinion about tipping amounts (you could call them “tips on tipping”):

  • The MINIMUM you should tip your server is 20%.
  • Even if you don’t eat or drink much/anything, the MINIMUM you should tip your server is $1/person during off hours, and $2/person during peak hours.
  • The longer you sit at your table, the more you should tip.
  • Always tip on what the full amount of what your bill would have been before you redeemed that coupon/gift card/kids-eat-free deal.
  • If you are going to pray over your meal or in some other way publicly identify yourself as Christians, please, please, please tip more generously than the above!

Wouldn’t it be great if two years from now, when our ministry shows up in Fort Collins, the following comment could be heard among the wait staff at a restaurant: “Awesome, the Christians are here! We’re gonna rake it in this summer!”

Click here to read “Part 2” of this post…

9 thoughts on “Christians and Tipping

  1. My wife and I have been personally doing our part as we always do – tipping well.

    I worked for years in the service industry for a resort and understand the courtesy of tipping.

    Thank you for posting the article.


  2. Don't let it stop once CSU is over. Please, bring this home with you. There are plenty of other cities in the USA that have the same experience. Working in food service, EVERY co worker I've worked with, including fellow believers has identified Sunday as the day of worst tips “Because Christians are the worst tippers.”

    I'd love to see whenever I go out or am at work something as simple as going out become a ministry. In food service, you may have to talk to people all day long, but it still can get really lonely, and it can make you really hate interacting with people you don't know in general. Lets turn this around!♥


  3. Because my father drove taxi for much of my life, I understand the importance of tipping well. Even so, I sometimes cringe and want to sneak a couple dollars off the table when I see the 20%+ tip that my generous husband generally leaves. (Shouldn't we tip on the pre-tax amount, Charles?) What keeps my hands to myself are the things mentioned in this article, the humble knowledge that God has provided abundantly for our family, and the realization that an extra few dollars is a small price to pay for a compelling witness.


  4. I agree that we ought to tip well, expecially as we are identified as “the Christians.” On a positive note, I have had several local service industry employees tell me this summer that they actually LOVE it when our group comes to town and look forward to these summers. Good job, those who have already been doing their part to be generous!


  5. Alyson, they probably lied to you OR their management mandated the response with a job loss ultimatum. I've been a server for over 25 years. We're NEVER glad when the “cheap” christians come to town with their tracts made to look like money just to fool you. How would you feel if Jesus just “fooled” you?


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