As the resident “church junkie,” most of you know that I’ve been around churches for a long time. And as such, I’ve heard some startling statistics about most Christians’ participation and contribution. According to the Barna Group, fewer than 10% of “born again” Christians give 10% to their Church (read the article here). Even more surprising from this research is 28, that those who do contribute are generally not considered “well off.” Those who contribute are those who, by all logical reasons, shouldn’t!
I was always told that 10% of the congregation gave 90% of the finances and did 90% of the work. Other pastor’s have told me that they operate with even less contribution and help.
Before I continue, let me state for the record that I do not believe that the NT mandates tithing, especially in regards to Justification. Yet I find ample evidence that Christians are mandated to generously support the work of the ministry. Dr. Sam Storms has an excellent article on the topic (found here). So, in order to be clear, I do not believe Christians are obligated to give the strict 10% tithe of the Old Testament Law. I believe they are “obligated” to generously give, which seems to require more than 10%, but I suppose that depends on how one defines the word “generous.” And for clarification purposes, it would seem to me that the minimum that a Christian would contribute would be 10% due to its Old Testament background.
So we’re told, by various research groups, that most people do not contribute – both financially and in the work of the Kingdom. I kind of view this from different perspectives:
First, from a larger leadership perspective: It is sad that very few have a vision for the future. Our children will continue to meet in a small area of the building because people would rather go out to eat or purchase items that they do not need than contribute for the future of our youth. Furthermore, we are unable to financially support a person to serve as the music leader (worship pastor) or a youth pastor because we are currently struggling to pay our electric bill! Actually, our current staff salaries are in question, so we are clearly under cheap nba jerseys our budget.
Second, from a pastoral perspective: People pay lip service about the Kingdom of God and say they want to serve on the worship team or in missions or with children but are unwilling to consistently support these areas of ministry because they, quite frankly, do not “The contribute or participate. This is “pastorally” concerning because it sheds some light upon the hearts of people. It’s one thing to pay lip service and another to put your hand to the plow and to fund the work of the Kingdom. It’s also important to note that many of the tools that are needed for pastoral ministry are unable to be purchased or provided simply because we are unable to purchase them. Why? Because people generally would rather show up and watch a show than to participate and contribute.
Third, from a Biblical perspective: The Scriptures teach us to financially contribute generously and cheerfully. This certainly does not qualify as a couple dollars here and there. We are told that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). But what I beleive is even more important to connect with is the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping. Furthermore, we are exhorted to support those who labor in the work of ministry. Note the God’s following passages of Scripture:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Cor. 9:6-8
“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one cheap jerseys sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, 3D but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Gal. 6:6-9
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of 6500 double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”” – 1 Tim. 5:17-18
Fourth, from a preacher’s perspective: People shake my hand and tell me how much they appreciate me and how much they are learning and they state that they are excited about hearing my messages and then they withhold contributions that are used to support my family. How am I to take this? It seems heavily hypocritical. Save the applause folks… let’s just be honest. One mine as well say, “Luke, I have learned a lot about what God thinks and what the Bible says but I’m not thankful enough to contribute to the organism so that you can continue to do what you do. I actually don’t appreciate the teaching of God’s Word that much.” Oops. Might have stepped on some toes here – honesty isn’t always the best policy… or is it????
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor zum in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his cheap jerseys free shipping wages.”” – 1 Tim. 5:17-18
Some may attempt to confuse my point with the idea that I’m worried about my check book or that I’m stating that if you sow into the Kingdom of God you’ll become rich. This is simply untrue. I rest fully in the provision of the Lord and I’m not against laboring outside of “preaching and teaching.” God shall supply all my needs! No worries there. I also find the Prosperity Gospel to be highly heretical. Your sowing into the Kingdom does not guarantee that God will send you a check in the mail and “double your money.” You will reap, but we reap according to God’s purposes and standards.
Yet I cannot shrink back from what the Bible teaches regarding finances. We are called to be good cheap jerseys stewards. We are called to provide for our family (1 Tim. 5:8). We are called to contribute to the Body of Christ for the sake of the Gospel. Something has to change… it starts with our hearts. Let us obey the Scriptures and not the top economic advisors of the world.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
every church i’ve ever gone to has really stressed how important it is to give tithe and offerings. i guess it has been beaten into my head that it just happens. when i get paid I just naturally write a check to the church first. i also help some missionaries that i know. I think you’re right though about the statistics. a lot of people spend money on other things and they don’t help out around the church.
If there is one thing that Baptists are good at, it’s supporting the church and keeping the sabbath holy. We have been able to build when we have needed to and to take care of our leadership. It really just comes down to priorities.
My friend Glen shared on Sunday before we took the offering and I think he really hit home. I’m sure some were offended but he did an excellent job. It’s all about sacrifice and surrender. Sadly, I’m not sure people really understand this.
Erin, I agree. Baptists generally do not have this problem, at least not in my experience.
Dr. Storm’s article is good. You and I have discussed the balance that is needed on this topic. Tithing doesn’t “earn” salvation from God, but God expects us to support ministry with our money. Striking this balance seems to be difficult for Pastors. Theologians and Scholars are less likely to twist Scripture because it doesn’t directly affect them, whereas Pastors are often likely to use tithing passages to motivate people, though often out of context. Your explanations of this have helped me a lot, Luke. I’ve noticed the differences between Pastors and Theologians in the last few months.
I’m praying that your congregation can make some improvements in this area.
Why do you think pastors and theologians differ on their opinion about tithing?
Our message this past Sunday was about generosity and our faith. The verse from Luke 16:9 NLT says “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.” Being a generous person will cause you to be a good tither and a good tipper etc. I think that is what I want to set the goal to be, generous all around.
people like to shake hands more than to support with money. that’s how it is. it took me a long time to get to where i supported my church. i just didn’t think it mattered. then i read the bible.
I believe JHOLMES and Luke are referring to the fact that very few Biblical scholars suggest that Tithing is a NT practice. The Pauline corpus suggests that the practice of Tithing was built upon and extended to be a practice of generous giving. I believe Luke has referred to this as radical and extravagent giving in past discussions. If one takes the NT at face value it is difficult to find any commandments that would suggest that Tithing was a common NT practice. It was, more or less, assumed due to the Jewish foundation of the early church.
Pastors, however, tend to utilize a Tithing principle to “enforce” giving. You’ll often hear quotes from Malachi and other Old Testament passages that are used often out of context in order to prompt giving.
It would seem that Pastors follow this method because their pay checks depend upon the giving of the congregation. Theologians are paid by the Academy, so they do not “lose” anything by backing positions that would be contrary to what produces results, in this case money.
This, it seems, would be what Luke and JHOLMES are referring to.
It seems to me, of the many churches we have attended over my lifetime, that the ones who have the least trouble paying their bills are the ones that encouraged tithing as a good starting point. Also, the pastor taught on giving at least once a year (usually for a series of sermons). The “best” churches I’ve attended have taught a balanced view of giving, in that tithing is not required for salvation or for God to be “pleased” with us, but that God does bless us when we give “generously”, which by biblical definition is a minimum of 10%.
We attended a Baptist church for 6-7 years that had problems with paying their bills, and I believe it was at least in part due to the pastor’s major reluctance to preach on money, because he was afraid the congregation would think he was trying to get a bigger paycheck. “Fear of man” shows up in all sorts of ways, including that one. God has a great deal to say about money in His word, so why should a pastor be afraid to tell us what God has to say about it?
I agree with Dr. Glazer that the O.T. verses are all too often wrenched out of context and used to coerce congregations into giving. Regardless of whether this produces results (such as paying the bills) this is a gravely dangerous practice, and shows woeful lack of regard for the Holy Scriptures. I don’t believe that the end (churches having enough funding) justifies the means (taking scriptures out of context).
I agree that is an opposite and equal danger. One the one hand are the “preachers” who apply unbiblical pressure, and on the other are the pastors who do not teach on money at all, thereby giving the impression that God doesn’t really care about that either. I think a good balance is important, and always, always that it is scripturally accurate.
good thoughts. i thnk people need to be given needs but not manipulated. luke, how do you guys do it?