The Intrigue of the Tithe

I was reading @ ‘Finding Your Path’ in this post,part of a series on ‘View from the Pew’. The man makes some good points, but in all this…. a question came to me. I don’t know what your particular view on the idea of tithing is, as you read this, but I asked myself:where do the funds come from to do all these works of financial compassion? We ignore lots in the Church, as Mitch Raymer points out, but let’s face some facts. First, everyone grouses about preachers panning for finances from the pulpit, and therefore many of them have an aversion to this hard chore of life, themselves . Then the fact of our own forgetful ways when it comes to attending to giving to our Churches. Find the statistics…how many church members give ten percent or more in Churches that do not teach on tithing? Even those with teachings don’t have 100% compliance with the practice.

So where are churches to get the necessary finances to meet the needs of society, starting within their own pews?

I think tithing is a good way to start…simply by virtue of the fact that God instituted this for that very reason: the practical maintenance of the buildings, the clergy, and the charity of the institution in the community. This on top of the fact that members were to be individually charitable to the poor and needy in their midst.

People like to grouse about finances in the Church, and asking for contributions, but they like to also ignore the fact that money isn’t going to magically appear for the services and charitable provisions that we all know is part of our faith. And we grumble about teaching that reaches near, let alone into our pockets.

We can’t have it both ways, friends. Integrate the thinking, and participate in the giving…. even if it is only your two mites.

I think this problem is sort of related to something I have quoted here on the page from Sam Pierce’s Uncle Sam’s Cabin: the poor end up paying because the privileged won’t. There are lots of financially privileged people in the American congregations who are tightwads when it comes to proportional giving to the church. that is why there is so much complaining about the ten percent. Sure, it is a minimum, sure, the way of the New Testament is to freely give…. but we are supposed to aim for more than that legal ten percent. It was a guide to show us what was meet, expected. We aren’t educated to that and think that we are just supposed to give what we feel. Well, if our feelings are constricted by materialism or greed, and we aren’t aware of that , because we never stetched ourselves further than our comfort zones…. then how are we going to have the generosity of the spirit in giving ?

The tithe is a starting place. We all have to start somewhere.

2 thoughts on “The Intrigue of the Tithe”

  1. In in the interest of full disclosure, I do not think the “tithe” is binding on Christians today, nor do I think that it is necessarily meant as a good place to start.

    Now that I’ve got that out of the way….

    We can all be more generous, whether that be through our local church or by some other avenue. We have more money than we need by virtue of just living where and when we do. The question that seems relevant to me is do we sacrifice for others. Do we go without so that others may benefit? At the same time I don’t the church has to meet in a cinderblock building and forego paint on the walls to be spiritual. You’ve talked about “beauty” before on this blog. And I definitely think that beauty is something we should promote and strive for. Being utilitarian is not a spiritual gift… 🙂 That’s a bit of a false dilemma but I think you get my point.

    I’m also thinking about how much money the church spends on overhead. Our church beats the average and gives about 1/3 to missions/benevolence. I think most churches don’t top 20%. This unscientific survey suggests 10-15% is more like it. That means we’re spending a ton of money on salaries, building upkeep, debt(in some cases), and funding internal programs. The house church concept intrigues me for the very reason that we could free up our resources for other things. Of course, it worries me for other reasons.

    I’m also not convinced we need professional pastors but that’s another rabbit trail. Hope I didn’t ramble around too much.

  2. {{Brian}} you are the avante garde 🙂 real cutting edge radical -I like you!

    Beauty doesn’t have to costs lots of money if you have talented people who donate. Donation is at the root of giving (more than semantics here-not just giving in order to buy services) and though I am very sold on preaching tithing, not as “binding” but as instructive and having promises attached ( not saying you need to agree- that is my view), we are ending up in the same place- we need as individuals and corporate to broaden the tents of our generosity. Think about this: what happens to all that debt and interest if the Christians are tithing? If you have cash that is always a better way to deal with your purchases.

    I guess the thing that is important to realize is that people need to be taught to give, it doesn’t just happen out of the goodness of their hearts. Because our sense of what is good and what we find joy in is a learned experience when it comes to giving away, as opposed to getting.

    I think professional pastorship is good, but not necessarily in the form we now see. I like the idea of house churches, but it is really not something I have seen as successful…not that I have seen much of it. Yet, isn’t that how Vineyard came about? that was successful .

    So I am back to this: I encourage my fellow believers to follow the call of God -wherever that takes them, as long as they are prospering in their growth into the likeness of Christ- I am behind them 100%. The likeness of Christ is to pour oneself out and to get refilled regularly in the Father’s presence; so however we accomplish that is good. But we need to give more of ourselves and stop being so self-satisfied in our cultural practice of Christianity, that I am convinced of.

    Your example of the cinderblock church reminds of a funny personal story- maybe I’ll post that later today.

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