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June 03, 2007

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I once read a convincing argument that if ALL churchgoers tithed, and assuming ALL churches then donated a healthy percentage of their income to outreach programs, the problem of world hunger could be completely solved. COMPLETELY. It's staggering to contemplate how much good ten percent could do.

I'm not surprised. I'm at a new church plant and the tithing has substantially decrease since the excitement of the new beginning faded.

Remember that the church is its members (or v.v). "If only those members would tithe, the church could do great things" should IMHO (sometimes) be, "If only the church was doing what it ought to do, people would give to support it." Many churches are more concerned about funding the stained-glass windows, annual marshmallow roast, new choir robes, and cushions for the pews than they are for training, sending and supporting missionaries, helping the poor in their towns/cities, and providing good, interesting curricula for bible training for all ages.

Excellent, thought-provoking article. I had three reactions:

1. I wonder if the decrease in giving to missions is due, in part, to the globalization that has reached virtually every corner of the world. That's not to say that needs (spiritual and otherwise) abroad don't exist--they certainly do. I just wonder if, on the whole, development throughout the world, in conjunction with vast improvements to access to information, have lead to at least some of the decreased giving to foreign missions.

2. Today's mega-churches are starting to look like a combination between a shopping mall and an amusement park. You enter church and stop for a latte at the Starbucks, buy a book at the bookstore that rivals a Border's, get your hair styled, and then have lunch in the restaurant. And your kids? They can enjoy xBox on 10-foot screens, work on their boarding on an in-door half-pipe, and then shoot some pool. The point here isn't that these churches or what the offer is wrong. In fact, the church can make a positive impact on literally thousands of lives each week. But to the extent that our giving contributes to such luxuries, should we count it has a charitable contribution?

3. Lastly, I wonder if point #2 has led to some of the decrease in tithing to the church. There are so many needs in the world that, frankly, many churches are just not meeting. Do you think this has caused some to divert their giving to other causes? This may be supported by the article in the last bullet point in the post above.

I agree that it is a shame that people (not just evangelical Christians) put more into stuff than into giving and tithing in church. I took went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peach University last year and it really helped open my eyes to giving and tithing. I wish I had come to this realization years ago, but in any case, I now do what I am instructed to do by God and as outlined in the bible. It truly has changed my life in all of it's aspects.

FMF, once again you have written a thought provoking piece. May God continue to bless your endeavors!!

My thoughts on charity and tithing: Why should I give my money to the Church, which gives only two cents to a cause, when I can give it to a charity, and see much more go abroad to help people? Maybe my church should have sent more of my $ to help people, instead of buying the pastor a larger tv for the parsonage....

Considering I work for a church, I have a different perspective on things. I agree that many churches do spend too much on luxuries, but this also draws youth into the church. Not many teenagers would go to a church function if wasn't fun related, once they are there then the Gospel can be proclaimed to them.

Anyway, I think one reason that churches are donated less (percentage wise) to foreign missions is because they need more and more for operating the church (I know in one month our church's heating bill was over $5,000...cold winter). So while our numbers of people are increasing and cost of living is increasing, the collection plate is not growing as fast (if at all), so more and more money needs to go into upkeep.

People want to the church to provide everything and do everything, but with less money. We figured out once that if every family in our church tithed 5% of their income (we used the average family income from a recent survey) that our church would get in 3-4 times as much money, and we could do alot more and provide alot more services than we can now. Including, sending more money to foreign, national, and local missions.

I enjoyed your post. We desire to give more, but we're saving for a house. It's hard right now. Either way, your post was very motivating. I'll admit, I'm a believer in Biblical tithing, but I'm not practicing it.

Another thought I had was what to make of the taxes we pay that go to charitible causes. Are these tithes? US workers now have a huge tax burden to bear individually. The biggest cause of our current high tax rates was Roosevelt's New Deal back in the 30s, which created Social Security, Unemployment, and Welfare. The New Deal was basically forced charity.

I know there's the verse, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” but Caesar wasn't giving to the poor once you gave him money.

The amount of tithers and the amount of money is faltering no thanks to televangelists who abuse the word of God. The tithe is faltering because there are too many holes in the pro-tithe debate. The church does need to give more than it does. I challenge myself with this all the time. It hurts to see that there are so many needs and yet so much of it is not taken care of by us.

The church can do so much more, but it starts with good teaching about giving and stewardship.


It's sad to see how many don't realize that the tithe still applies, but that doesn't mean that I believe it applies to us in the same way that it did in the Old Testament; The idea/principle of the tithe is still present in the New Testament (Matthew 23:23), but it is never explicitly applied to believers.

Even for people who are for grace-givng and try to make the argument that tithing doesn't apply for today, it's a trip seeing how almost all Christians are called to more extravagant freewill giving in response to the gospel of the Lord Jesus, based on faith in God as provider (2 Corinthians 9:6-10)....

and I personally believe that tithing is only the starting blocks for a much more extravagant New Testament SACRIFICAL GENEROUSITY....the real thing that ALL OF US SHOULD BE AIMING FOR.

The tithe was never the standard of Old Testament generosity, nor is it the standard of Christian generosity today. Tithing may be a helpful guideline as we strive to develop a lifestyle of even greater giving....and the practice of giving a set percentage of one's income in order to develop a greater disciplince of sacrifical giving in the future and "excell in the grace of giving" is something that I personally believe tithing can accomplish if one is lacking a disciplined lifestyle/practice of giving

But it must be said that it was and is possible to tithe faithfully while neglecting true, biblical generosity (as Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees; see note on Matthew 23:23)......

I think tithing's an interesting topic for finance blogs. Many people don't think they can save 10% of their salary, much less afford to give that much away. I resolved to become someone who tithed and started giving away as much as I felt I could; that turned out not to be painful so the next year I gave away more, and then the next year.

I also decided that giving money just to my church wasn't very good stewardships of my resources; now I give about 1% to my church, 5% to my (Catholic) high school, and 4% to basic research against intractable diseases. Works for me.

It seems that many within the church are missing the point about tithing. Tithing isn't for God's benefit. He does not need our money. Its a matter of obedience. We are all called upon to affirm our allegiance to God through the way we live our lives. This definately includes the way we manage our money. Tithing pre-dates the law and falls far short of the standard of the new testament. But how are we going to claim to follow the standard of the new testament if we fail at the old testament minimum? The lack we are seeing in missions is directly related to the lack of fervor within the pulpit and the pews. If this trend doesn't change soon, the church will be dominated by a self seeking christianity that is void of its central figure, Christ.

Giving generously is a huge issue and generosity is a character trait that God wants developed in all believers. The main problem for the church is that the tithing issue is falling apart for the church because arguments for it are "straw arguments" at best.
There is now so much information on the web that clearly shows that there is no such thing as New Testament tithing (that is the giving of 10% of net income to the church) that many feel that they have been "duped" by the church and are now seeking to be generous in other areas such as missions.
After reading hundreds of hours on the tithing debate on the web and having been a regular tither (10% of gross income) for many years, I have come to the conclusion from biblical argument, that ther is absolutley no obligation for believers to give 10% of their income to anyone (unless that is what they freely choose to do). There does remain a huge obligation to the needy, to the gospel, to your family, to your community and to your local congregation to be generous with what you have - this I feel convicted about.
I feel like yelling "heresy" every time I hear someone quote Malachi and tell their congregations that they are "robbing God" if they are not tithing.
The more that the church pushes the message of tithing as opposed to generous giving, the more people will move away form giving to the church because it is wrong teaching.

In regards to the comments posted, and the one above. Tithing is a biblical basic. How can you call something that is so explicit in the bible as a heresy. In essence you are a heretic when you are changing scripture around to match your own beliefs. However, the scriputre is quite clear when it comes to paying our tithes. How is one creating a "straw man" when the scriputre is so clear and precise. It is not right to pick and choose what verse you like out of the bible. We pick and choose all the things we "feel good" about in scripture, but throw out the things that may force us to grow and mature in the Lord.

When we talk about generousity, the tithe is the minimum, one cannot be generous, unless they are obedient. The tithe is really about your faith in God and trusting that He is taking care of you and not your job, or your savings account.(Deut 8:11,17,18). That He is the one that gives us our wealth, not us!! The tithe is doing the bare basics. It's amazing how one can give more money to Macys or Mcdonalds, when we cannot even give God what is His. Yes, we are robbing God, the tithe does not belong to us, but To GOD! Read it for yourself (Malachi 3). As we look throughout scripture the tithe is used before the law(Abraham, Genesis 14:18-20, Jacob, Genesis 28:22). During the law, (Lev 27:30-33, Numbers 18:20-32) and throughout the New Testament(Mat 23:23, Luke 11:42, 18:12, Heb 7:1-21). Even when Jesus is rebuking the pharisees he says "You should be tithig" The New living transaltion states Jesus says you are tithing (which is the tiniest part of ones income) (Math 23:23). He basically is telling the pharisees "duh" you should be tithing, what do you want a cookie or something because you are following the basics. I can go on and on with scripture from the Old testament to the New testament of where it clearly state one should be tithing. At the end of the day, the tithe really reveals our relationship with God. Most of the people that I run into that do not tithe or do not "believe" in tithing are already experiencing deep financial problems and their relationship with the Lord is not really flourishing anyways. So the real question is do you Love God more or your money?

How can you say that tithing is a biblical basic for NT believers. Where in the NT is this taught? Yes, generous giving, yes, remembering the poor but hwere in all the NT are believers told to give one tenth of their income to anyone. In the book of Acts where OT law was in conflict with Gentile culture, there was aperfect opportunity to include tithing if it was mandatory but it was not.
I also understand that tithes were never money, Jesus didn't tithe as he was not required as a carpenter to do so. Only livestock and harvested crops were tihable commodoties. How can you take what was an OT requirement and then legally bind NT believers to it. It's wrong, wrong, wrong. The argument is a flimsy straw-man, a sacred cow that needs to be killed off. there is plenty in the NT to bring conviction about generous giving, especially to the needy above rich fat-cat preachers who claim to be "the man of God" over the "temple of God"
Give generously, give hilarously, give sacrificially but don't allow anyone to try and tell you that you are cursed if you do not tithe. if they do scream "heresy" and give to a more Godly cause.
Abraham didn't tithe income, he tithed the spoils of war. Malachi 3 is a rebuke to ministers (priesthood) and not to the congregation. please get your facts straight before you bind believers up under legalism. There is not one single place in the NT that requires believers to tithe income to the "house of God". if you want to tithe your income, that's great. My bible also reads that the poor are the number one priority for your giving, the general poor and also the needy believers.
Do good to all, especially other believers.

Mick --

Read my other posts on the issue.

Mike your comments are so foolish, obviously you do not read your bible at all. Tithing is not about your money, and in the Hebrew the tithe means a tenth of what your income is. There is no doubt that they tithed off their commodities in the old testament, that is what their income was, which was part of their harverst which is parallel to money, our equivalent to our earnings for these times for tithing is our money, just like livestock was considered there money in the OT. You should go back and read in the NT where Jesus tells the pharisees yes you should tithe, it is something you should do. Also, the new testament standard tells us to give our all!! The church in Macedonia gave their all to the House of the Lord, go back and read the scripture and Paul speaks on numberous occasions the importance of giving sacrificially to the church!! There are so many scriptures on money in the bible, because I think God knew how selfish people get when it comes to giving back to him. We own nothing, God owns all, and if you think of it from that perspective you know that tithing and giving your offering is more about your relationship with God and arguing about tithing is so foolish, when we are really called to give more that just our little 10 percent to God. He deserves much more than that. Let's take the scripture as a whole from Genesis to Revelation and not pick and choose what we like and don't like. All I know is when I bring my tithe and offering to the Lord I am storing my tresure in heaven and not on these earthly possessions here on earth and that is not a big deal because I Love Him so much!!. You can argue with God about His Word when you get to heaven; but I am taking the whole inspired Word of God as truth while I live here on earth, so I can enjoy his manifest blessing because I was obedient to His Word as a whole!!!

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