Ask Your Preacher
The recent questions on tithing have got me thinking. If someone gives out of their personal funds to things related to their specific congregation... say, they buy class materials or pitch in for building upkeep. Could that be considered as part of their giving for the week? We are on a strict budget and sometimes have to buy things for the church but feel bad if when the collection plate rolls around on Sunday morning, we've already spent that money earlier in the week.
On A Shoestring
Dear On A Shoestring,
There is nothing wrong with factoring other spending you do on behalf of the church into your giving, but the biggest thing you need to do is to factor these things in at the beginning and not when Sunday rolls around. 2 Cor 9:7 says that we should “purpose in our hearts” what we should give, and 1 Cor 16:1-3 talks about giving in a purposeful, planned way. If we are reading your question right, what is happening is that you have a budget, and whatever is left at the end of that budget is what you give. That is the opposite of how giving should be done. When you first get money, you should plan ahead what you will give (factor in extra church giving expenditures you may need to prepare for), set that money aside, and then the decision is made well before the plate comes by. That way, you can feel confident that what you are giving is purposeful and cheerfully planned.
What does tithing really mean?
Money In The Bank
Dear Money In The Bank,
The New Testament and Old Testament teachings on giving are similar… but not the same. The Old Testament was very specific that giving should be a minimum of ten percent (Deu 14:22). The word ‘tithe’ means ‘one-tenth’.
However, the New Testament teaching is more generic. Though ten percent is a good rule of thumb (after all, the Old Testament is given to us as an example – 1 Cor 10:11), christians are simply told to “give as they have prospered” (1 Cor 16:1-2). God tells us to be cheerful givers (2 Cor 9:7), but He never specifically says how much christians should give. That is an issue of wisdom and is left for each individual heart to work out for itself (Php 2:12). The specific rule of giving one-tenth of our income no longer applies; instead, we are told to examine our hearts and give thankfully.
I give offerings every time I have money during worship, and I set aside funds for it beforehand. But there are some who become disappointed in me and crucify me for not putting in the amount they often believe to be sufficient. How can I deal with those of the brethren who bring this kind of condemnation?
Condemned For Finance
Dear Condemned For Finances,
When people question the amount of money you put into the offering, show them 2 Cor 9:7 which says that each should give as “he has purposed in his heart”. You must stand before God and answer to Him for what you gave and what you didn’t. You are responsible for what your heart purposes, and they are responsible for theirs. Show them 2 Cor 9:7 and then kindly walk away.
Your answers about tithing have been very biblical and correct. Thank you. And I already know your thoughts on our responsibilities as stewards of those funds... so what do you think about a huge treasury? If we are to be using these funds to do God’s will, then how can we justify, as His church, “storing up for ourselves on earth”? I mean, if we are to give of our means and know that God will take care of us… then why does His church need to try and keep bulk money in the account?
Not A Hoarder
Dear Not A Hoarder,
A congregation’s leadership would have the same reason for saving money as an individual would – savings is part of stewardship. If someone lives their life without a “rainy day” fund, we consider them unwise. Congregations have regular expenses and unexpected expenses – the problem with unexpected expenses is that you don’t expect them! God says that we must be wise stewards in all that we do (Lk 12:42-43, Matt 25:23). It is possible for a congregation to hoard money – this is wrong. It is also possible for a congregation to spend their money unwisely and not prepare for future expenses – this also is wrong. As in all issues of wisdom, there is a balance. You are right that churches should be using the funds they collect to do God’s will – that isn’t in question. The question is simply how and when to use those funds. That is trickier and requires wise elders to properly manage each individual church’s finances (1 Tim 3:5).
I am happy to write to you. I am wanting to know how you conduct your worship on Sundays.
God bless you.
Looking For Order
Dear Looking For Order,
The Bible gives us examples and commands for five different elements to the public worship.
- Teaching/Preaching (1 Cor 4:17)
- Singing (Eph 5:19)
- Prayer (Acts 12:5)
- Taking A Collection – Sunday only (1 Cor 16:1-2)
- Lord’s Supper – Sunday only (Acts 20:7)
Of these five elements, two of them are specifically allowed only on Sundays. The others can be done any time the brethren get together. The congregation here in Monroe, WA is a simple New Testament congregation, and our worship is just what you find in the Bible.