Why should we give to the church?

God owns everything that exists. Followers of Jesus believe that God provides all that we will ever have or need. God puts money and possessions in our hands for us to steward – manage – on God’s behalf. That is why we call our practice of giving to the church a “Stewardship” campaign. 

The Basics
 
Why should we give to the church?
Giving to God through the church is a spiritual discipline. When we give to God through our church we grow in our love with God and have a sense of peace about our money and possessions. Giving, then, is just like prayer, fasting, Bible study, worship and the sacraments – a spiritual practice that shapes us as disciples. When we give systematically, sacrificially, and consistently we grow in holiness.
 
What is a tithe?
Tithing is the spiritual practice of giving as it is taught in Scripture. It comes from Genesis 28. In a dream God tells Jacob that he will always be with him; that he will have a great land; and that he will have plenty of descendants to follow after him.” God just gives him all of these things.

In response to God’s generosity, Jacob promises a tithe: 
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.”

It is important to note that Jacob gives a tithe – a tenth in response to God’s generosity. He did not give to God in order that he would receive; he gives to God because he has already received. Tithing is a spiritual, Biblical response to God’s generosity.
 
The practice of the tithe has its roots in many other ancient cultures. Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians all practiced the tithe. It is a universal spiritual practice.
 
Should Christians Tithe?

Jesus never speaks specifically of the tithe in the New Testament. Practicing the tithe in the Jewish community was so common a practice that Jesus never really had to. In fact when Jesus talks about giving he tells us that a tithe would just be the beginning.

When a wealthy young man asked what was required to enter into the Kingdom of God, in addition to following the law Jesus told him: “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money[a] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  Luke 18:22

Jesus admires giving that is more sacrificial than a tithe. In Matthew 21 it says:

“He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2 he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

For Jesus a tithe is just the beginning of generosity.
 
Practical Matters

There are a lot of questions about how we figure out our tithe. Is it before or after taxes? What about Child Support?
What about an inheritance should they be tithed?
There is no one answer for any person, as God made all of us wonderfully different. In your answer to these questions, remember why we tithe: Tithing is a spiritual discipline that draws us closer to God and gives us peace about our money and possessions.

Pray about these matters. Seek God’s will. Make the decision that gives you the most peace. We should never give in such a way that fills us with fear, or dread, or resentment. These things are not of God. For some, they have peace tithing gross income; others, net.
 
God cares about our hearts more than our pledge. Give at the level that provides you the greatest sense of peace.
 
What about gifts to other charities, or special designated gifts to my church?
The tithe is the gift we give to God through our faith community. It is given freely and without any strings attached. We trust God and the leadership of our church to steward those resources. Traditionally, our giving to special causes (Wish List, Communion Rail, Capital Campaign), or to groups beyond our church is a very generous thing to do. But they are not part of the tithe.

Remember the goal of giving: to draw us closer to God and to give us peace. Ultimately you will work out with God how you should give. When you have peace about it, you have your answer.

How do I make a pledge when I do not know how much I will earn in a year?
This is a very common dilemma for business owners, ranchers, farmers and people whose income is based upon some sort of performance standard. The best practice is to make a faithful estimate for your pledge. If your income changes from what you expected (for more or less) adjust your tithe accordingly, and let your pastor or treasurer know. This is a common occurrence in churches.

What if I cannot afford to tithe?
Then give the amount that gives you the most peace. Many people start at 2%-3% and grow annually towards a tithe. They too experience the peace that we talk about. Giving should never feel like a burden, but a blessing.

 

Spiritual Matters

If I give to God, will God return more money back to me?
This question really has things in reverse order. We give as people who have already received. It is our act of gratitude towards God and a way of growing in holiness.

Do I risk losing my salvation or being punished if I do not tithe?
This is not a salvation issue, but a spiritual discipline. When we tithe we grow in our trust of God and our peace about money and possessions. People who do not give are not punished by God, but they rarely enjoy any peace about their money.

What Does the church do with my tithe?
The Church Council, guided by the Finance Committee and the Controller, and led by the Holy Spirit, put the church offerings towards the ministry of the congregation. Your gifts pay the light bill and feed hungry people. They provide Bibles to children, weddings to couples and funerals for those who grieve.

We believe in being completely transparent. Anybody can look at our financial statements at any time.