Growing up in the church, we’re always told that 10% of our income should be given to the church.
Several church plants/fund raising and who knows how many sermons later, I still roll my eyes just as heavily every time that message-theme pops up.
First, nowhere in the bible does it say 10%. This is taking out of the book of Leviticus (27:30) in terms of how much land/crops/etc. the Israelites were to set aside for God. Then again in the book of Mark (12:41-44) we’re given an example of tithing, in this case a widow versus the wealthy. But no definitive amount is listed.
My most recent exposure to church-funds raising has left me shaking my head. Most of the call to actions are challenges, “Give and see how God gives to you,” “Give and see how your perspective is changed,” “Give and see what we the church can do.” All relevant and good points. More importantly, as a Christian, we believe we are stewards of all we posses therefore making the whole idea easier to understand and justify giving to God. It’s his money after all. But for me, I have an issues with church pushing, all but demanding, you be tithing regularly to their cause. Yes, churches are important, buildings need maintenance, people need a place to go, and the list goes on. However, there are MORE things you can be giving to that are impacting local and global communities better than I personally believe a lot of churches can and will. Churches require staffing, salaries, benefits, maintenance, etc. The cost can be high, justly so, to support all the people that are living and dedicating their life to the church’s mission. One huge benefit of this is that churches can host numerous ministries as a result. They can be the platform other outreaches can use for practical reasoning.
I still don’t like the pushing. I have just finished over a month worth of sermons telling me how to give, why to give, what to give, and when to give. In my life, sometimes I have given more out of discipline and obedience than my heart being in the right place. I don’t think that’s wrong, although ideal you’re working towards your heart being in alignment with the action.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
However, sometimes people’s circumstances are just too much for them to be giving; too much debate, a known huge expense coming, barely scrapping by, and in those instances we are directed to that chapter in Mark. But not because a church or pastor is telling you to. I believe personal financial guidance and overall stewardship encouragement would have a greater impact for the people of Christ.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. – 2 Corinthians 8:12
I have used the 10% as a guiding block of where to start, but I personally hope to be giving and using what God has given me on a much larger scale than that in my life. I also understand that sometimes the barn (or church) needs to be raised and obviously they need funds to do it, and there are always some great biblical points to take out of the “money-bag” sermons.
Here are some things I’ve gathered over the years:
- Earthly treasures can’t follow us into eternity (this does NOT mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy them. See Solomon.) Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:33-34
- Money (or time, or resources) can be used to create eternal impact (this is cool to think about) both for the giver and receiver: You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:11
- God is generous, so we should be too: Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16
- You can’t serve money and God: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10
This was mostly a rant, but needless to say it’s been a good challenge of making sure my perspective is on God and not just what’s next.
Here are some of my favorite missions (and a church trying to build) if you’re at all interested or unsure where to start:
Drop your favorite charities in the comments! I always love to know what else is out there!
All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. – Proverbs 21:26