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November 15, 2009


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No, you are not being harsh at all. Unfortunately, if we Christians did give the full 10% tithe, the vast majority of the churches, in my belief, would just add on to the building, and hire more staff. We, as Christians, have lost our purpose. We have forgoten, or have never known who Jesus Christ really was and is today. I believe we have a very disappointed father in Heaven.

America, if you will just bless God, He will give you better leaders.

It's valid. We should all also remind ourselves that it is not all about tithing money. All of us has been blessed with skills and we are able to give of our selves and our time.
Sometimes for those in need, it may well just be a friendly ear and an understanding heart.

I think the criticism is a bit harsh. It's very difficult for me to see the wealth and privilege of certain organized religions and think that tithing really does support the poor. Wouldn't it be more effective to give directly to one's local food bank or homeless shelter?

I know some people who don't give as much to their church because so much goes to admin and building stuff. Instead, they donate directly to charities and causes they care about. I therefore doubt that an increase in money going to churches means an increase in money for the poor. I have a feeling this money is already going to those who need it.

No argument here with this article.

When I glance down into the collection basket, I never see a bill $20 or larger. There may be a check that's greater than $20... but it truly is a sad sight. With the minimal amount of money flowing in, the only thing the church can do is provide maintenance and pay the staff. Numerous people donate to charity, but almost none of the money goes to the poor or needy...

I want to think that I'm doing my best... but I'm only mustering out 4% of my take-home pay, which is only 1.8% of my gross. But I manage to put in $20 a week. It's so disappointing to see $1 or $5 bills in the basket, and people think they are doing the right thing.

The Bible is an allegorical and guiding document. Do you take everything else in the Bible literally? It was only in the 19th century that the literal interpretation started to truly gain ground.

I am more inline with this posting (

Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10 percent of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent, not the 10 percent which is generally considered the tithe amount today. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5).

you're right about tithing not really being a hard and fast 10%. However, the NT suggests "they held all things in common" and "they gave to everyone who had need." FMF point that 2.6% is not "What you are able" its much less than most people are able to give, if they follow basic money management principles well.

As always, I recommend knowing what percentage of the budget your church gives to good works outside staff and building, then giving to the church the percentage of your income you feel appropriate considering that ratio, and supplementing your gifts to the church with gifts to other charitable organizations.

Our church had been running about 30% outside the congregation, and had to cut back this year to about 10%, and it was very painful for all of us, but we lost a couple of major donors, and a few people lost their jobs.

I would hardly consider giving money to a religious organization "giving money to charity." No, giving money to charity is when you give money to Red Cross, USO, Mercy Crops, or a number of legitimate charity organizations.

Giving money to your church is to support your religious organization's salaries, building cost, utility cost. It does not go to the needy. It goes to a service you receive and should be paying for.

Religious organizations in general should be stripped of their tax exempt status. Money they contribute to legitimate religious organizations should be tax deductible to them. Money they pay towards their staff should be taxed.

It's repulsive we have so many multi-million dollar televangelists along with their multi-million dollar organizations that are all tax exempt. THAT is a real lost to all social services the government provides.

Otherwise, I have nothing against donating 10% to charity.

**Edit: Money religious organizations contribute to legitimate CHARITABLE organizations should be tax deductible to the religious organizations.

'they gave to everyone who had need' is the words to judge one's self by.. We all know when we are doing our fair share; to some that may be a 100% to others it may be 1%.. for most it's somewhere in between :)

On one hand I feel that people take the legalities of tithing too far. Tithing is not really about money, portions, or what the church does with it - is it? I thought it was about faith and obedience.

However, do you tithe to a church if you are not being fed as a Christian? Do you tithe to the church if you know it goes no further than the church's coffers? If the Bible says to bring His "tithes into the storehouse", doesn't that mean the church? Is giving outside of the church still considered tithing? Is giving directly to the poor a more effective tithe? Is it okay if you are not attending a church to give to charity and consider it tithing?

My husband and I are not attending a church at the moment (we are in transition after a demo graphical move). What do we do with our tithes? I am incredibly confused about this, and wish I had guidance. I feel VERY convicted to tithe and I keep getting convicted. Coming here today was just another conviction :-(


The "million dollar televangelists" that you give as an example are a minority compared to what is reality. I, and many others, believe that organizations that serve others or serve a cause should have tax exempt status as they are not designed to make a profit or enrich anyone (churches included). Instead, they are there to serve others. In the case of churches, they serve as spiritual support.

If you start eliminated tax exempt status for one (such as churches), then you should eliminate the others. If you do that, then you will greatly impacted the giving that takes place.

God is the same. What was true in the Old Testament is true
in the New Testament.

"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
- Mt 5:18 (NAS)

Unless I am mistaken, heaven and earth has not yet passed away,
therefore the law is still in effect.

If adultery, or false witness were prohibited under the law,
or they now OK under grace?

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. -Mt 5:20

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
-Mt 23:23

So, the scribes and Pharisees were tithing, but neglected justice,
mercy, and faithfulness. Our righteousness is to exceed that of
the scribes and Pharisees. We to tithe (and follow the law)
AND do so with a heart of mercy and grace.

We are to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.

Not wanting to start a flaming session, but I firmly
believe all Christians should give at least 10% of
their gross income to the local church.

Nothing lies like statistics. That is my way of saying I doubt the 2.26 % cited. A lot of charitable giving is in cash and can not be tied directly to the contributor.

Separately, rather than assuming that the government should do more because people are giving less, it is quite possible (likely?) that the government actions have contributed to the decline in charitable giving. Over the last century the government using funds confiscated from the citizenry has started acting as though charity is the providence of the government. When people see the government as the answer to every need eventually people figure they are already "giving" since the money confiscated by the nanny state government is playing charity.

the other side is of course 'you have heard it said, but I say to you' and Peter's vision in Acts, 'what God has declared clean, let no one call unclean' and the Jerusalem council where they decided that circumcision (the first sign of obedience to the law) were unnecessary for Christians.

I wouldn't interpret 'storehouses' of the temple to be directly parallel to modern day churches. The temple had a host of other functions that our churches and pastors do not fill. After all, as Hebrews says, we have one priestly mediator in Christ, and need no other earthly sacrifices-meeting together as Christians is mandatory, but having a building, and paying a priestly class is a convenience.
Also, when the temple wasn't doing good things with the money it was given (you neglect the widow and the orphans) Jesus, Isaiah, and other prophets were happy to critique them. Equally, I think when churches spend to much on pastor salaries and new buildings, we can ask if they are really fulfilling the mission of God. For your specific concern,there are many, many faith based/church run organizations who give a large portion of what they receive to the poor and needy. The Red Cross or United Way are only the largest examples. Check out for more local or specific options that you might feel the spirit's leading to support.

Is there such a thing as Muslim finance blogs? This post makes me curious to find out. I can't help but wonder if Zakat is a more spiritual way of giving than tithing. It's one thing to give away a portion of something you never really see (tithing just becomes a line in the budget), it's another thing to annually give away a portion of everything you've amassed over the years. The purpose of Zakat is to cleanse and make room for growth. I don't think tithing fills the same purpose.

This research seems to make a lot of generalizations. I don't know how we can look at church goers versus non-church goers or Christians versus non-Christians when there are so many religions out there, and Christians aren't the only ones who give to charity or their church/temple/mosque. They're false dichotomies.

I agree with the criticism. I'm not sure it goes far enough (or perhaps not to the right place). What concerned me most about the quoted article was that church benevolence has decreased so rapidly in the last 40 years. That's over 40 years, so this is not a economy-driven recent issue. It's dropped from 21% to 14%. The benevolence outflow from the church has dropped by 1/3. What does the church have to show for this? Waterfalls, hundreds of thousands of dollars in audio / visual equipment. Unfortunately, our churches have been investing in themselves and not the truly in the Kingdom of God.

Regarding tithing, I'm not going to comment as the two sides have been stated. Most of the people on this site are firmly on one side or the other and it comes up every few weeks anyway. I recommend everyone spend their own time in research and in prayer.

@Aspiring to do Better:
Step one is find a church. It may very well take weeks or months to find a good church, so start now. I know it's daunting and moves are difficult, but you need to be together with like-minded brothers and sisters. That should be your first concern, then deal with the other things.

So let me get this straight. Research says if people donated more money, then churches and charities would have more money to help others.


@Another beth
Actually what I read that is if people give to the church they will see more of their money going to be a cool church than to actually helping those in need. Let's say I give $1000 to the church, only $140 goes to help with anything outside of the church. The rest pays for the cool youth retreat, big new fancy building, the salaries of all the random people for minor ministries that should be volunteer positions, the $100k salary for the pastor, plus his housing and vehicle allowances, etc.

I think the modern American church should be ashamed at these numbers. Giving to the church to help those in need is like trying to contribute to the local economy by shopping at Wal-Mart.

I think one thing is unaccounted for - non charity giving. For example, when someone needs help and you give then money versus giving to an organized charity. A friend is in need. A stranger in need. That's what giving is truly all about. Many are not interested in paying a charitable organization's employees salary.

Actually, the Old Testament says to give 10%. The New Testament says that everything you own belongs to God. So, technically, you should be giving 100%. Anything below 100% is below God's standards. Thankfully, God gave his only son to die for our sins, since we, as human beings, cannot live up to his standard.

It is a shame to me that many Christians give so little. For me personally, I give 10% to my local church, and an additional 5-6% to causes and charities I'm passionate about.

Marvin Olasky wrote a telling book in the early 90's called "The Tragedy of American Compassion." In it, he details how, in the early days of America until around the 1920's, nearly all of America's colleges, hospitals, and human service organizations (orphanages, immigrant resettlement centers, mutual aid societies, etc.) were church-based.

But from the 30's until today, government has usurped more and more of the church's role to meet human needs, and the church often gave up it's role to the Welfare State.

Gratefully, in my community, churches are really doing some great things to meet needs. Our local paper just ran a story about three church-based medical clinics in our city that provide free or very low-cost medical care for the uninsured and under-insured.

But, churches could do more. For example, I often think about all the people who don't have transportation to get to work...and about all the churches that have buses or vans that get used only 1 day a week. What if just one or two churches would offer transportation services for low-income people who don't have wheels? That would make a big difference.

Every church I have ever attended has operated like a business. They take in money, and when there is a surplus they "invest" it to try and "grow" the church. They buy bigger buildings, new vans, take fancy "retreats". How is this helping the world?

If I give $100 to St. Jude or Habitat for Humanity they are using that money to actually "help" people. Could you imagine the possibilities if everyone gave 10% of their income to causes such as this? They could cure cancer in no time with that kind of money, or feed every hungry person in America.

"I see verses on giving in the Bible, I see verses on helping the poor, and I see verses on paying your taxes, but I don't see anything that says, 'Pay your taxes and you don't need to worry about giving or helping the poor.'"

FMF, I don't disagree with your general argument, but you do realize that the texts of the Bible were written at times at which governments provided minimal, at best, social services, right?

Sarah --

Yes, I do.

We give to the church so that the word of the Lord might be spread (i.e. preachers, not secretaries). More than 80% of our contributions go toward helping support preachers around the world. I believe the Bible teaches that taking care of people is up to the individual Christians and not the church as a whole. The church's responsibility is to save souls not entertain people with gymnasiums or run orphanages.


I would give more if I could trust 110% my donation would be used effectively. I think it's hard to find a charity that one trusts b/c they don't make their finances transparent. This is not meant to be an excuse but I wish non-profits were more clear about where my money goes. These non profits could be much MORE efficient.

I think a lot of people would agree w/ me, lack of trust is the main issue. If non profits showed us the CLEAR results of our contribution, it'd be easier. It is also hard to find a charity b/c of this. Just being honest.

The 10 percent tithe was never recommended in the Bible. It was required of the Jews as a part of their law. The tithe is mentioned once in the New Testament when Jesus tells a couple of Jews that they tithed and that that was appropriate. Nowhere in the NT does the scripture recommend tithing. In fact, the reference to offerings is always in relation to benevolence giving (for the Jews suffering a terrible drought in Judea) or for the support of ministers who were serving the congregation. The Bible gives three reasons for a Christian to waork hard and make a good living. So we can take care of our family needs, so we can invest in the kingdom of God, and so that we can help those who are in need. Although tithing is not mentioned, systematic, proportionate, generous giving is promoted. Especially is this true in relation to the aforementioned drought.
As for the poor, Jesus answered the critics who were angry with Mary for anointing His feet with a costly ointment byt saying the poor you will always have with you. In fact the church did promote support but not for those who simply chose not to work. He who does not work should not eat. Even in the case of support of the widows certain restrictions were placed on the church's responsibility. It needed to be a godly woman over 60 years of age whose family could not provide for her. The family has the first responsibility. The church is supplemental.
Should Christians be more generous? Probably! Would the 161 billion dollars go exclusively to feeding the poor? Probably not--nor should it. Perhaps more should be spent on our first priority--reaching the world with the gospel.
The reason we hammer the issue of tithing is not because it is a Biblical mandate to Christians. Rather it is because we need the money to finance the church ministry.
Giving is an individual matter. It is a private matter. Lert a man give as he has purposed in his own heart. No need for guilt here. That is not the proper motive for giving. Some church leaders use greed as the motive for giving. Give to God and He will return it many times over. We should not give because we want to get. We should give out of love for God and commitment to His work. Period!

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