Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Church Stuff: Tithes and Offering

Church stuff is a new section of "All These Things" that deals with the basics of Christianity and the common practices of the modern Christian church. I am of the Baptist Denomination. Therefore, most of what I write concerning specific practices will be based on what I was taught and what my particular church believes. I will try my best to be correct in my information. However, any input is appreciated. I will never delete a comment or question unless it is deamed disrespectful to God or lewd in wording. Tough Questions are welcomed!

A friend of mine asked me to relay some thoughts to them about tithing and giving offerings to the church. I started thinking about it and how to put it into words. So many times, we as Christians do things because that's we are told to do. But when we have to explain why we do the things that we do, we need to make sure that we have the proper answers. Here is what I said:

The purpose of tithes and offering is to support the church. All of the tithes and offerings are designated to go to particular ministries or “accounts”. As an example, my church has a General fund account that goes for the following expenses:

1. The pastor's salary
2. The staff salary
3. Membership dues for the Baptist Conventions and other membership organizations

We also have a Building fund account that goes towards the upkeep of the Church building and for maintaining the land around the church. Then we have a Mission Offering Fund account that is designated money for our mission outreach programs. These programs include:

1. Providing food for families.
2. Supporting a ministry church in Haiti
3. Helping members to pay electricity bills, rent, or any emergency that they may need assistance with.

Here are the major questions about giving:

Q: What is a tithe?

A: A tithe is simply 10% of your income given to the church. In the book of Genesis 14:20, Abram (Who later was renamed Abraham) gave a tenth of his winnings in war to the King. It was a gesture of respect to the one in authority. Since God is in authority in our lives, we should give our tithes to God through the church. If you make $100, then the tithe is $10 dollars. Some people ask should you give 10% of your gross income or your net income. I say that you should start out giving 10% of your net income. As God continues to bless you (and He will!), then you can give more. Here’s the thing though. The tithe given is the minimum that you are required to give. If you can afford to give more, certainly give more. But don’t worry about that at this point. An offering is simply anything else that you give in addition to your required 10%(tithe).

Q: “Why should I give?

A: You should give because God has commanded us to give. In Malachi 3:10, it states, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”NIV. These are the words of God through the prophet Malachi. He is saying that we should bring in our tithes and offering to the church (storehouse) so that there will be plenty available to do the work of the church. In the scripture referenced above, the word food is used because many of the people during that time brought crops and livestock as an offering to God. The food was used to feed the priests and provide for the elderly, the widows and the orphans. The community as a whole was responsible for providing for the church so that the church could perform its duties. Just as the community provided for the church; we should provide for the church through our monetary donations(as well as our time and talent).

Q: What if the church does not do the right thing with the money?

A: Just as you are required to be responsible with your money, the church is required to be responsible with the money that is given to it. The trustees of the church have the responsibility to make sure that the money is used for what it is supposed to be used for. If the church misuses the money that you give them; then that is between the church and God. I had an old Deacon tell me that he didn’t care if the church put the money in the parking lot and set it on fire! He knew that he did what God wanted him to do by giving. His responsibility to the money ended once it left his hand and went to the church.

Q: But what if I can’t afford to tithe?

A: God promises that He will provide for us as long as we do our part. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.NIV These are the verses that we say(at my church) before we give our offering. What it means is that the more you give to the church, the more that God will give to you in blessings. They may not necessarily be monetary blessings. But they may be blessings of good health, peace in the home, and other ways. It might be a monetary blessing. But my prayer is that the blessing that you receive is the blessing that you need.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike


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Based on the many strong comments I received on this article, I looked online to see what else was out there. Here's a good article that I found:
Does the New Covenat Require Tithing?

I copy/pasted the article below:

The New Testament clearly assumes there was a new covenant established between humanity and God through the advent of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 3.6; Hebrews 7-9). Many have claimed that grace has replaced law, which was the keyword of the old covenant. Paul wrote repeatedly that grace was superior to the law, and it seems the Church came to a similar understanding.

However, I'm not sure Jesus would agree that the old covenants with God are null and void. Indeed, he said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5.17-18). Some have said that what was to be "accomplished" was the cross-resurrection event; however, the sense of what Jesus says in the remainder of this passage seems to belie that notion: "Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5.19).

So, to the question: Should tithing be a thing of the past? One of the little known facts is related to this very issue. Did you know that Jesus had more to say about money than he did any other subject? More than about loving your neighbor? More than about loving God. He even had more to say about money than he did about his own death and resurrection. Finances were important to Jesus.

So, what did he have to say about money? Well, mostly he had to say that if we were preoccupied with money then we were in a lot of trouble. "I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19.24). He also said, "Therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions" (Luke 14:33). Pretty harsh words about our "worldly possessions" and what it means to be a true follower of Jesus. On the other hand, he never asks us to do anything he hasn't already done himself.

Jesus only once mentioned tithing by name - and that was to condemn the Pharisees who were abusing the system (Luke 11.42). The only other time the word tithing occurs in the New Testament is in Hebrews 7.5-9 where Abraham's tithe is used as an example about the high priesthood.

On the surface, it looks like the tithe just might be an old covenant issue, since it is referred to so rarely in the New Testament - and then never by command. So, why does the church still hang on to it? Because of one particular reminder by Jesus.

That reminder in found most clearly in Matthew. On Tuesday, the week of Jesus' ultimate arrest, the religious leaders were trying trump up a reason to arrest him that would stand in a Roman court. They tried a variety of trick questions, and finally got around to asking, "Is it lawful for a Jew to pay Roman taxes?" It was a loaded question. If he answered, "Yes" he would become rather unpopular with the crowd who were anti-Roman. On the other hand, if he said, "No" the Romans could arrest him for sedition. Instead he replied, "'Show me the coin used for the tax.' And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, 'Whose head is this, and whose title?' They answered, 'The emperor's.' Then he said to them, 'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's'" (Matthew 22.19-21). His answer astounded the crowd because he had tricked the religious leaders: (1) They were in the Temple and coins with engraved faces on them were not allowed there (and the religious leaders knew better), and (2) the fact that they were using a governmental provided coin implied they owed the government for services rendered.

But for the Church, the point is this: Jesus here implies that responsible disciples are expected to contribute to the work of God appropriately. And the standard contribution to the work of God was, and still is, ten-percent.

It is written that where your treasure is, there you will find your heart. If offering ten-percent of one's income to the work of God through the church seems high, then an accounting of our checkbooks will reveal most clearly where our heart really is.


  1. Rev. Mike,

    I thought the law was nailed to the cross, yet you use Malachi 3:10 as a reason for tithing. Since Malachi 3:7 refers to the odinances, or commands, these verses are referring to the law that ended at the cross.

    The only tithe I find in the scriptures that any part of went to a storehouse is the Levitical tithe. Therefore, Malachi 3:7-12 is specifically referring to the Levitical tithe and NOT to Abraham's tithe or any other tithe. Furthermore, only the tithe of the tithe, the portion the Levites took to the temple, could ever go to the storehouse, not the whole tithe from the people. This is confirmed in Nehemiah 10:37-38 which tells us the firstfruits were taken to the temple and the tithes were taken to the Levites to go into the Levitical cities.

    Another problem with the whole biblical concept of tithing - nowhere in the Word did God ever command anyone to tithe on anything that man made or earned. The biblical tithe was always on miracles of God (crops and animals). The Israelite farmers had income, but that is not what they were required to tithe on. This principle has been twisted by man. Church leaders have essentially diluted the tithe from God's miracles to man's achievements. In other words, in the tithing formula, man has replaced God with himself. The biblical tithe was never about man. God never asked or required man to return to Him a tenth of what man made or earned.

    Abraham's tithe was free-will, and to bring Abraham's tithe into the New Testament is merely bringing in free-will offerings which is exactly what the New Testament teaches. To use Malachi with Abraham's tithe is incorrect since, as I have pointed out, Malachi is referring to the law.

    I believe in generous and sacraficial giving, from the heart. I believe each person has a moral obligation to support the church he attends. I believe mixing the law with grace is wrong and a dangerous practice. If you bring in one law, you must bring in all the laws. What right do you or anyone else have to pick and choose which law(s) you will follow from the Old Testament? There is nothing in the New Testament to support tithing as a way to finance the Christian Church. I show my love to God by my cheerful giving. The teaching that tithing is required in the Christian Church needs to stop.

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  3. Hi Gary,

    Thank you for your comments. You say that you give cheerfully to your church. Would you say that you give a certain percentage of your income to the church? Maybe 20% or 30%? I remind you that I did show 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. I agree that you should give cheerfully to your church or not at all. Trust me, I have never seen anyone thrown out of my church because they didn't give anything. But let me ask... is it the word "tithe" that you hate? Or do you perceive tithing as a forced nature of giving in the church? Or is it that you are concerned with what the church does with the money? Just curious...

  4. (In other words, in the tithing formula, man has replaced God with himself. The biblical tithe was never about man. God never asked or required man to return to Him a tenth of what man made or earned.) Can't we consider the jobs that we have and the income earned as a blessing of God that should be acknowledged?

  5. Hi Rev. Mike,

    To answer your questions: I don't give any particular percentage to the church. As far as my giving to the church and the needy, I'd say I have been giving close to 30% of my income, and I am retired. My generous giving at times requires me to tap into my retirement savings in order to meet my own obligations, but I have learned that I can't outgive God. Also, I've noticed the more I sacrafice in my giving, the more I have been financially blessed.

    It is the word "tithe" that bothers me when it is taught as commanded by God, or required by God, or belongs to God (everything belongs to God), and that one is robbing God if they don't pay the tithe. Abraham GAVE a tithe while the Israelites PAID a tithe.

    I don't believe the New Testament teaches that we owe the tithe, but rather encourages giving from the heart. I have always been a giver, even the many years before I accepted Christ.

    Of course we can consider the jobs we have and the income we earn as blessings from God. However, the Word does make a distinction between what comes from God's labor and that which comes from man's labor in Deu. 8:18. God gave us the ABILITY to produce wealth; therefore, God gave me the ability to work and earn a living. God's tithe was never on anything that came from my ability that He gave to me.

    Nearly a year and a half ago, when I started rearching the tithe, I prayed and begged God to not let me be a false teacher. I prayed and pleaded that He would guide and teach me. Believe me or not, God, Himself, through the Spirit, taught me for about 10 days in a row, every morning when I woke up. I'll never forget the morning He told me: "Tell the people that the tithe was always on miracles of God. Tell the people that the tithe was always on gifts from God. Tell the people that the tithe always came from God's labor. Tell the people God never intended man to tithe on man's labor." That set me straight, and when I check the Word, lines up perfectly.

  6. Good food for thought. I appreciate your imput. It will challenge me and our readers to continue to search the scriptures. Come back and visit again.

  7. This is an email convesation with Russell Kelly.

    Michael Thomnpson: It appears that you do agree with the idea of giving to the church. Is it the use of the word "tithe" that bothers you?

    Russ: The word "tithe" has absolutely no grounds for being used by the Christian church. OT Levitical tithing was cold legalism and was expected regardless of one's state of mind. I have demonstrated that the 16 biblical texts which use the word always only include food produced inside Old Testament national Israel which was God's unique Holy Land. Althouigh God owned all the land even in the Old Testament, He never allowed tithes to come out of any other land. If our words have no biblical foundation, then communication is impossible. We would not care substitute "murder" for "accidental homicide." New Covenant giving is freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment or percentage and motivated by love for God and lost souls. That is sufficient for any church whose pastor stresses personal evangelism.

    Michael: Or is it the concept of the church forcing the people to give to the church?

    Russ: The Church should not force anybody to do anything. It should not add to God's Word the requirement that church officers must be tithe-payers either. That means that poor and very gifted members cannot hold office or teach Sunday School.

    Michael: Gary stated that it was the actual word "tithe" that bothered him. I was curious. In his statement, he said that he actually gave more than ten percent.

    Russ: Paul wrote in 1st Timothy 5:8 that we must take care of our medical needs, essential food and shelter. Many in the modern church who teach tithing boldly ask for the first ten per cent of one's income prior to paying any other bills. That is a disgrace, especially since tithes and firstfruits were never the same thing in God's Word.

    The New Covenant tithe-teaching pastor boldly stands behind the pulpit and proclaims that the church doctrines are all found in the New Testament after Calvary. They lie when it comes to stewardship.

    The equality principle of 2nd Cor 8:12-14 should apply to church officers also. While many should give more than 10%, many are giving sacrificially even though less than 10%.

    Tithing is a shackle of the Law which is keeping the Church from moving forward. It is not the secret of a successful church.

    Russ Kelly


    So....It seems that everyone believes that you should give to the Church. I have to read up on the "New Covenant" concept before I can intelligently argue back and forth. For the sake of our milk drinkers, let's not use too much time determining what's written on the envelope, but what's written in the heart.

    Peace and Love

  9. Unless you were a Jew back in the Old Testament days of Moses and before Jesus went to the Cross, Tithing along with the Oracles of God was not a commandment for you. Gentiles were outside of the Covenant law of God. Jews even called them dogs because Gentiles were uncircumcized and served many pagan gods they were also violent against the Jews and like savages. Gentiles were only grafted in and adopted by faith in Jesus after the Cross!

  10. Hello,
    I have no problem with tithing but I also think that a lot of churches misuse the money from tithing. For example, 1Cor. 9:18 - What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
    Yes, Churches need money to grow but it's the prospering I have a problem with. Preachers driving expensive automobiles, Churches buying expensive stuff for show.
    Yes God wants us to support our Pastor but I don't think that support should help the Pastor get rich.
    I love the Church I attend but our Pastor continuilly preaches on tithing and if you don't tithe right then you can't usher, sing with the praise group etc.
    My husband and I try to put our 10% in but sometimes it is hard. Should we not pay a bill and get behind because we had to tithe a certian amount?
    I don't think God's commandments on tithing is like it was back then. Back then you didn't have mortages, schools groceries, gas, power etc to pay for. And for the common person that doesn't have a lot, it's hard.

  11. GOD SAY THAT WE SHOULD GIVE OUR 10% AND I THANK GOD FOR OUR PASTOR AT THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CALVERT COUNTY HE DONT STAY ON THE SUBJECT OF PAYING OUR TITHIES BUT HE PREACHES THE WORD ONCE IN AWHILE HE WILL HIT THAT SUBJECT IF WE DONT PAY OUR TITHIES IT DONT STOP US FROM SINGING ON THE CHOIR ARE USHERING ALSO WE DONT PAY OUR PASTOR IN ST JOHN 10:10-14 SAYS: THE THEIF COMETH NOT, BUT TO STEAL, AND TO KILL, AND TO DESTROY: I AM COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, AND THAt they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepard: the good shepard giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is hireling, and the shepard, whose own the sheep are not,seeth the wolf coming,and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. the hireling fleeth, bacause he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd , and know my sheep, and am known of mine. {{r. e king church of GOD in calvert county - Pastor Ronald Hawkings, Pastor if ever in CALVERT COUNTY,MD STOP BY.}}

  12. My own Pastor preached on the subject of giving today in church. He stressed the fact that you should NOT neglect paying bills in order to give to the church. But he did state that you should give what God has placed on your heart to give. As long as you can give it cheerfully, you should give. I grew up on the strict concept of the thithe(10%). But I also don't believe in forbidding someone to serve if they do not tithe.