Should all of the Tithe go to the Church?

August 12, 2014

I was doing a Generosity Audit recently and wrapping up the day talking with a group of high capacity donors and leaders in the church. This is a large church, and many of the people in the room were not only leaders in the church, but leaders in the community. We talked through some of the issues in the church, and then switched our conversation to topics of giving and generosity. 

One of the questions I like to ask is, “What does your church believe about the tithe.” As you can imagine the answers are all over the board and many in the room have different feelings on the subject. In that environment it’s not my job to give my opinion, but to drive them to solidify what they believe. But in this instance, the question that really ignited the conversation was, “Do you believe all of your tithe should go to the church.” Silence….

Finally one man spoke up and said that he and his family didn’t give their entire tithe to the church, but that he split it between the church and Kingdom causes. One by one, others in the room followed with similar answers. The consensus was although there are many fine charities, that the tithe should go only to the church and Kingdom causes. 

So what does the Bible say? Well there isn’t clear guidance on that. John Piper addressed the issue a few years ago in a blog post. He says, “As a pastor, if somebody came to me and said, ‘I’d like to tithe. Where should I give it?’ I would say, ‘Well, I think it’s a helpful rule of thumb to say that, considering that this is your family of believers with its own set of needs and that you benefit from the church and give your life to it, starting with a tithe here is a good idea. And from there you can give more here and more elsewhere.’ But I would never say, ‘You must give your tithe to this church. I just don’t find it in the Bible. I can’t put biblical texts behind it.’”

Let’s assume most of us can agree that Christians are not “required” to tithe. We know that salvation is through faith alone and not works. But can we also agree that the tithe is a Biblical concept, and that we would be wise to search God’s heart on the issue. So then, if you tithe, where does it go and why?

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