Giving Money to Build Bigger Buildings. The Tithe, Oh, The Tithe.

Yep, we’re going there with this post.  I say we because Rob and I have collaborated to write this blog regarding tithing in today’s modern church.   I realize that this is a touchy subject, so we  want to offer a few disclaimers before we begin.

1. We bring up this subject with respect, knowing that we might say some things that are not very popular, we say these things with a tonality that is truly not hostile in any way, shape, or form.

2. This isn’t to slam any specific church

3. We are bringing up these points to start dialogue among people, not to start wars.

That being said, we (Tim and Rob) know that once we start talking about money, we automatically start walking the plank.  Money alone is a touchy subject.  To boot, we are going one step further because we are going to be talking about the tithe, specifically the act of giving money to a church to “further God’s Kingdom”.  I think it’s safe to say our plank just got a little thinner.

But what about this thing called the tithe? Where do we even get that word from?  If we don’t give every week will the Lord not bless us?  These are a few questions we are hoping to answer in this post.

Let’s start with where we got the act of tithing from.

The main source of “tithing law” is found in Lev 27:30. We should all be giving 10%! First off, this entire section is expressly stated (Vs 2 and 34) for Israel. So for a much better idea on the New Testament meaning of tithing why don’t we look in the NT. The word “tithe” is found twice (the same story from Matt 23:23 and Luke 11:42) as the Lord condemns the scribes and Pharisees for their legalism and hypocrisy with their enforcement of the Law of Moses and the Laws of God. Tithing was one of the Laws of Moses. The only thing Christ really ever said about it was a condemnation of the religious leaders about their abuse of it!

Let’s look at the woman who gave two mites (Luke 21:1-4). There were plenty of others that went into the temple that day and gave gifts that were probably 1000 times larger than her gift. Does that show how concerned God is about the amount we give? Christ said nothing about the man/woman who gave the most but spoke so highly of this woman (who probably gave the least). When Christ prayed to the Father for 5 loaves and 2 fishes he then fed well over 5000 people (the number 5000 doesn’t include women or children). God took the gift of a little boy and turned it into something so much greater. God doesn’t need our cash and checks to get His work done, He will make due. But I would appeal to Proverbs 23:26, “My son, give me your heart…” So why did Jesus point out this woman who gave two mites? It was because of her devotion and her motivation. She gave all she had for the right reason. We can all look at Matthew 6:3-4 to realize that giving to get some sort of recognition is the only reward you will get. Giving is not a public matter and should really be done in complete secret. When God places a burden on your heart or you see a need… give but don’t go shouting in the streets about the good things you’ve just done!

I (Tim) want to sum this up. In the New Testament there is no command to give 10% or more of your money to “further God’s Kingdom” in fact, the only times we see people giving is when there was a specific need.  When people were in need the community came together and met the needs of the person.   This ia very far cry from the modern idea of the tithe.  In fact if you’ve been in a church service before you’ve most likely heard something like this “do you really trust God? Then prove it by giving us some of your money”  or you’ve heard “If you don’t give to our church generously then how can you expect God to be generous with you?”.  This to me seems more like manipulation then it does to actually be supported Biblically.  Yes, I said manipulation, and I stand by it.  People, the Church, should never feel guilted in to giving money to an institution.  God doesn’t demand that every person gives 10% (or more) to their local churches to “further God’s Kingdom”.  If we really think that God needs our cash then we have a very little idea of a great God.

I want to make something very clear here.  If you believe the Lord is leading you to give to your local church.  Then you better give to your local church.  I am not calling for Christians everywhere to stop giving money to their local body.  I am simply saying not to be fooled, manipulated, and tricked in to thinking that if you don’t give on a Sunday morning (or some other service time) that you are in sin, or “missing out” of God’s blessings. 

I want to get personal for a minute, I (Tim) want to share why I tend not to tithe.  I want to also note, that this is solely my opinion, there are others who have different opinions on the matter, and that is great, that is quite alright.  But right now, I want to share why I don’t tithe.

It hit me one day, all of this money, the church handles tons and tons of it, and where does most of it go? To salaries? To programs? To a better light show for Sunday morning?  To pay the electric on a building that’s used maybe 3 to 4 times a week? Statistically most money in most churches goes to either a salary, or a building of some sort.  Very little goes to the community, the widow (or in modern terms the single mom).  Very little of the money I was giving really went to any need, it was just piled in and divided in to things that really were…material driven.  I see it all the time, huge church buildings, state of the art lighting, thousands and thousand of dollars worth of musical equipment.  To me, that’s not the Kingdom at work.  To me, that’s not where I want the money God has trusted me with to go.  See, for me it’s not a matter of being stingy with my money, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s me being protective of how I spend the resources I get.  In fact I have seen church bodies that steward their money very well, where most, if not all of it goes in to the community or directly to people in need.  Let me give you two examples.

I was a part of a church body for about two years up until recently.  One Sunday, the Pastor got up and said “Today, if you’re a single mom we want to give you 500 dollars, I haven’t asked the staff for permission, and honestly I don’t know how we can afford it, but I don’t care, we want to help you single moms and we’ll trust the Lord to take care of us”.  Chills were all over my body, I never saw such a clear example of a “taking care of the widows” mentality in an institutionalized church.  I gave that day, absolutely I gave, I wanted my money to go to those women.

The second example is a great example of a smaller number of people coming together and meeting a need.  I’m a part of a local community of about 30 people in their 20’s.  We don’t take an offering, but whenever someone in the group had a financial need, we came together, and gave to that need until it was filled.  This was probably the greatest example of an Acts Church style of giving that I’ve ever seen.  Every penny the community gave, went directly to the person who needed it.

As we close, we want to reiterate a few key points.

We are not calling for Christians who willingly give to their local Church body to stop.  By no means! If the Lord has lead you to support them, then do it.  But what we are saying is that we need to stop thinking that it is Biblical to tithe 10% percent of our finances. This is not only an Old Testament thought (as noted earlier) it is completely absent in the New Testament.  Paul tells us to give cheerfully and out of the overflow of our hearts, not out of duty.  The Church is not a club that we need to pay money to get in to.  In a culture where everyone wants your money, we (the Church) do not need to follow the trend.  Asking people for more money and doing that by invoking the “God wants to bless you ” card.

-Tim and Rob.

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6 responses to “Giving Money to Build Bigger Buildings. The Tithe, Oh, The Tithe.

  1. I have a few thoughts on this.
    First and foremost, my money isn’t actually mine, it belongs to God. Your money isn’t actually yours, it belongs to God. The concept of tithing and why God created it was to remind us of His blessing and that all we have is because of who He is. So when you tithe to the Lord, through the local church, it’s not up to you to decide where your money goes. Tithing is a step of faith in the Lord, both for a person financially, and for His kingdom. I pray that it will be used to futher the kingdom. God doesn’t need my money to do this, but I give anyway. I have to trust that the Lord has my check in His care. What I can do is get involved with the church and be part of outreach, ministry, and events where I can better understand how my (now God’s) money is being used. I can also choose to give to the Lord by going directly to a mission or missionaries, but even when I do, there isn’t a God seal of approval on my $20 bill that says it will not pay for bills or salaries but only provide homeless children with food and clothing. It just doesn’t work that way.
    Second, When Jesus died for our sins as the ultimate sacrifice, He paid the price for our lives and we (thankfully) didn’t need to slaughter animals anymore because He is the only Lamb of God. But Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t mean that we don’t give anymore. I personally choose to live by the OT standard as a minimum for my giving, because I see the “law” of tithing the first ten percent of what God has given me as very applicable for today. Why would I not want to have God fully incorporated into the first decision I make with each paycheck?!
    Third, when we see elements of sacrifice and giving in the bible (monetary or not), I believe the example is always the same. To give your best. 2 Cor. 9:7: “Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.” This verse speaks about giving as each man purposes in his heart. But those who take this to smply mean they should give as their hearts lead, be very careful. For our hearts are not clean and by our sinful nature we will not want to give of our money generously. It is not in our human nature to be financially dependent upon the Lord, but rather what is in the bank. I might suggest that instead of waiting on the Lord to lead you to give generously, give generously and then see where the Lord leads you. He knows your heart and will direct your path.

    • Few things here.

      1. All money is God’s money, I agree. Which is why I believe the money He’s allowed me to have He trusts me with. That being said, if it’s all God’s money, (which I agree with), I highly doubt God is saying “Oh wait how did you get that much?! You better give 10% to me to prove that you think it’s all mine!”. I don’t know how giving 10% to a local church is the ONLY way to show God that it’s all His money.

      2. I’m reminded of Jesus in the temple throwing the tables over because of the market they made it. How many Church bodies sell their sermons? Sell their spiritual help as a product? I understand that you can trust God to see where the money goes. But when I see a lot of it being spent on things that just don’t matter, things that further a consumeristic church mentality, I think to myself the heart of God and that He has no interest in building our little kingdoms, He only wants to build His Kingdom which is found in Church buildings AS WELL as outside of the Church building in every day life. If I feed a poor man, or buy him a new jacket with my money, is that somehow less then giving 20 bucks in the offering plate? I don’t think to Jesus it is. Especially when He said “What you do unto the least of these you do unto me”

      • To be honest, I didn’t say that giving 10% to the church is the ONLY way. But I disagree with the idea that it’s not a good idea. You seemed to have a lot of reasons why NOT to give 10% to the local church, and I think this way of thinking is placing too much emphasis on where the individual person thinks his or her money should go rather than the faith and obedience of giving in general, because the bible does clearly tell us to give. In my closing I simply said give generously. If we are receptive to the Holy Spirit, I believe our path of giving with be directed through the discernment of what God wants. But again, don’t wait for God to tell you what to do, just start and see what happens! So if you start with the OT principle and then go from there to include special offerings, missions, a compassion child, a coat for the KLove drive, or $10 for one of the less fortunate people when you go over the Ben Franklin Bridge, then good for you. It’s certainly not a bad idea or a mismanagement of money to give to the Lord through your local church and I don’t believe that should be discouraged as a practice. I have never felt forced to give. I do believe the church does need to remind people that all we have belongs to our creator. It’s not about the church, it’s about God’s love, blessing, and grace, which is why those firstfruits are being set aside for Christ. Praise God to all those that God has blessed who give abundantly more!

  2. Tim, all I have to say to the idea that money given to the church just goes to buildings & fancy extras….I do the finances for our church, which is made up blue-collar people, and we struggle to barely pay our bills. In fact, one of our pastors, a very gifted individual who works full-time for the church, works for minimum wage. My husband, who works part-time for the church, receives no salary. If the people in our church who actually tithed stopped doing so, it would be devastating to our church body. We have no fancy extras and do our best to spend the church income very carefully – and out of the money we receive, we have a fund that anyone in need in our church can benefit from when needed, as well a separate account people give to above the tithe to heavily support missionaries. I doubt that we are the only church in this kind of scenario, it is probably much more common then you realize. I wish more people in the body of Christ would show their commitment to the body of Christ by giving 10%+ of their income, not less. Just coming from an inside perspective.

    • I want to mention a few things.

      1. We said in the blog (twice) that if people believe they should be giving to their local church then they should be. Paul says to give cheerfully, not give dutifully, there is a difference.

      2. I’m not attacking your church (or any church) specifically, I’m simply making the points that A LOT (not ALL)of the tithe does go to building costs, and salaries. I know in our heads in our culture we assume that a pastor must be paid, but I believe if the Church as a whole (not your church specifically) stepped up and started to not only feed themselves but to feed each other, the pastor wouldn’t be so pressured in too being the perfect spiritual leader that we so often expect all of our pastors to be.

  3. Reblogged this on a three word story and commented:
    This was a post on my friend’s page that I thought was worth a read. I could add about the tithe being a carry over from the days of early kingship and whatnot, but won’t for now. I think this stands on its own as a valid argument and would suggest even more research on it to interested parties.

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