Is tithing realistic?

There are two topics that I have purposefully avoided writing about over the last 5 years due to the volatile responses that I know that I will receive: 1) planning a wedding without being stupid with money 2) should you give 10% of your income to your church. Today I will tackle the easier of the two, #2. Am I overstepping my bounds as a personal finance expert by blogging about tithing? Probably. But if all you ever wanted was stale financial perspective, then you probably wouldn’t waste your time on my blog. I want you to struggle with this as much as I am.

Tithing, the concept of giving 10% of your income to the Christian church, is one of the most hotly debated topics in the financial world. Except the debate is rarely via spoken word. Yes, one of the most controversial topics in all of money is simply debated within one’s own mind. Yet, it is a painful, embarrassing, and humbling argument that cripples even the most pious individual. While I certainly can’t help relieve your conscience from the spiritual torture involved in this debate, I can shed some practical financial light on the topic.

Here are the questions that I want to address: Is tithing realistic in a modern economy with modern expenses? Can the average person really tithe? If you want to tithe and aren’t, how should you start?

It only seems appropriate that I set some MAJOR ground rules before we go much further.

  1. You need not be a Christian to benefit from this blog post.
  2. I am a Christian, but I don’t feel that it really matters for the sake of this post. Just as I would ask you not to hold my faith against me, I also ask that you don’t credit me for simply having the set of beliefs that I do.
  3. I currently don’t tithe, in the popularly accepted traditional sense (give 10% of my income directly to the church).
  4. You aren’t going to get any classic Pete the Planner mild cursing in this post. It would just be weird.
  5. I have as much biblical acumen as a wet stone. I won’t be quoting scripture or any religious material. You get plenty of that at church. This isn’t church. This is the best money blog on the planet (is confidence one of the deadly sins?).
  6. I’m really uncomfortable writing this post. But I’m doing it because I think many people are very uncomfortable with this topic too. Hopefully this helps you make a decision.

And here we go.

First things first. What makes tithing hard?

  1. God doesn’t have a bank account– As it goes with most practices of faith, seeing would be too easy. I think that if God knocked on anyone’s door and asked for 10% of what they have, then He would most likely be the greatest collection agency of all time. Because He would collect every dime that He asked for in person. Here’s what usually goes through the mind of a person that is questioning the prudence of handing 10% of their income over to someone that ISN’T God: there sure are a lot of plasma screen TVs in the lobby, the minister sure drives a nice Acura, and/or I can’t believe we advertise in the local paper. Relying on the judgement of other mortals to decide how to spend 10% of my income honestly doesn’t sit that well with me. This is primarily why most of my giving is directly given to charitable organizations, not through the church.
  2. Your own poor financial decision making– Don’t blame God if you spend 47% of your income on your mortgage payment. Don’t blame God if you spend 23% of your income on dining out. If you can barely “live” on the income that you make, then 90% of that income doesn’t seem that appealing. Are you justified in feeling this way? I don’t know, but no one forced you to buy that house, that car, that pony, and/or that Flobee. There’s not much more that I can say about this particular aspect of giving apprehension. You alone are the one that determine what you can afford.
  3. Your other charitable giving- This happens to be one of my biggest challenges. Mrs. Planner and I are very active givers to several charitable organizations. Many of these organizations also receive financial support from several local churches. So aren’t I just cutting out “the middle man” by donating directly to the charity? Again, I don’t know. If God “directs the congregation” to give money to ABC charity from the church coffers, then aren’t I doing the same thing by giving money directly to that charity? I’m not trying to play semantics with God here. I just can’t see the difference. If I give 10% of my income to others in need, then how is that a bad thing? I like using my money to put together care packages and Christmas gifts for those in need. I like donating to organizations that research a cure for cancer. I truly enjoy thinking of and providing for others. I appreciate the personal nature of assisting others personally.

There are two major financial principles that are applicable in this conversation:

  1. Scarcity- You can survive and thrive on much less money than you currently operate on. So if you do decide to pull the trigger and tithe, then just know that you can most likely “absorb” a portion of your new financial commitment. Call this faith. Call this “God will provide.” Call it whatever you want. I’m just telling you that after studying thousands of financial situations over the last decade, you can afford anything you want if you decide it is important enough. I have never seen anyone go deep into debt by tithing. However, I have seen people dine out less, go on fewer vacations, live in a lesser home, and drive an older car all in the name of honoring the tithe.
  2. All or nothing rarely makes sense- Where does it say in the bible “either give 10% or give 0%”? It doesn’t. If you “can’t” or aren’t currently tithing, then you may want to consider going at it 1% at a time. Let’s say that you have a household income of $60,000 and you currently aren’t tithing. Immediately foregoing $6000 could be a bad thing. However, foregoing $600 would be much more manage at the start. Why not start with 1%, adjust your budget, and then add another 1% every few months? That just seems like it makes sense to me. This same logic works for just about any financial goal. Can’t save 10% of your income? Then start with 1%, and then increase it from there.

The bottom line is simple: of course tithing is financially realistic. I find that people try to look for financial reasons as to why they shouldn’t tithe. I don’t really think that makes any sense. You really can afford anything that you make a priority. Not getting religious here, but you aren’t really going to “trick God” by thinking you can’t afford it. If you believe in God, then you believe that He knows what you are thinking. What am I saying is pretty simple: Refuse to tithe because you don’t want to. Refuse to tithe because you don’t interpret the bible that way. Refuse to tithe because you don’t think it’s a priority. But don’t refuse to tithe because you don’t think you can afford it. You can afford it.

I welcome you to offer your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below. I have received nearly 100 messages about this topic since I announced I was writing about it a few weeks back. That means that I fully expect several hundred comments on this particular post. Share your thoughts, no matter how insignificant you might think they are.

50 thoughts on “Is tithing realistic?

  1. I have always been taught that God wanted 10% of your tithes, time or talents. So it doesn’t have to be 10% of your income. There are other ways you can give back. I totally agree with your point about giving to charities on your own. Also, if someone really doesn’t have a penny to give and they volunteer at the church instead, who is to say they are any less than someone that gives 15% to the church but doesn’t act like a Christian?

  2. Thanks for writing about this ‘taboo’ subject. You made a nice logical argument. I think there is a difference between tithes and offerings which can help with your charitable giving issue. (Tithe = 10% to your local church, Offerings go above and beyond that to those in need)

  3. Hey Pete, great article. I think if you are going to obey “tithe” strictly then you must adhere to the complete set of laws tithing comes with in the OT. I think you are right about giving the money to other charities and questioning all this truly just exposes people’s intentions and true priorities. Not tithing to a local church organization but being generous as a person isn’t back breaking, however, if one does a self check and finds they are naturally greedy or callous then I think that is the heart of the issue. Great stuff man, I really enjoyed it.

  4. I agree with this. My mom was a financial counselor and struggled with the whole tithe thing for people who were far, far in over their heads. I pointed out to her that the Bible never says the word income. It is more of a “what you have” type thing. I think that giving of your time is absolutely a replacement for money. Send notes of encouragement to students, visit the elderly, volunteer at a soup kitchen. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you are giving your first 10%

    That is another point, God doesn’t want your leftover 10%, he specifically asks for your first 10%, before anything else. Genesis chapter 4 is an excellent chapter about this.

  5. Tithing, or giving 10% of your income to a church is based on the Biblical example of how farmers would leave roughly a 10th of their fields unharvested so that the needy and the poor could come and harvest the grain or produce and be able to feed themselves.

    I think that it’s noteworthy here that they didn’t take 10% of their harvest to the temples to have the priests distribute it as they saw fit or perhaps to squander it building the world’s largest crystal temple or hire drivers with golden chariots to transport them on important temple business. No, they left it for any who needed it to come and take it. That, in a way, is the approach I try to take in my charitable giving.

    I support Boy Scout, Girl Scout, Little League and all sorts of school fund drives. I drop money into red kettles and subscribe to PBS and NPR. I’ve given time and money to Habitat for Humanity and dropped off bags of food and money to local animal shelters. I buy coats, scarves, hats and gloves to give to organizations that distribute them to those in need and I give toys to the Marines. I send care packages to soldiers overseas and checks to Riley’s. (and others) I don’t make many large donations, but I try to help in many small ways wherever I can and whenever I see a need. I have no idea whether or not I give a full 10% because I don’t track my charitable giving, probably anathema to a planner. I would guess that some years it’s probably less and some years it’s probably more. I don’t use any of it for tax deductions because the gifts are from me, not the government. I know what I need to meet my financial obligations, present and future, and whatever is left I try to share.

    Anyway, that’s my take on the subject.

  6. I liked the article, but I do have to tell you that the 10% amount has a strong biblical history. I am siting a few sources for you here below:

    Genesis 28:22, Abraham’s grandson Jacob also made a commitment to give God back a tenth of his increase if God would fulfill certain conditions like God would be with him and will watch over him on this journey Jacob was taking and would give him food to eat and clothes to wear, so that I return safely to my father’s household (Genesis 28:20-22)

    Deuteronomy 14:23 The owner of the produce was to separate and bring 1/10 of his finished produce to Jerusalem after separating Terumah and the first tithe, but if the family lived too far from Jerusalem, the tithe could be redeemed upon coins

    Matthew 23:23
    Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others

    What I would like to add also, is that God wants you to give 10% – not necesarily to your church, but to charities that need your help. My own church recommends a 5-4-1 donation. You donate 5% to the Parish Church, 4% to whatever charities you wish, and 1% to the Diocese of our area.

    What I find by tithing (which my husband and I do tithe), is that it shows my faith and trust in God. It allows me to let go of my money as a material object. I have to trust that God will get it to the right people and I lose CONTROL over the money (and in the process money stops controlling me). It makes me squirm a little just saying it. It increases God and it decreases me.

    Thanks for writing about a very tough subject!

    Anne

    1. “It allows me to let go of my money as a material object. I have to trust that God will get it to the right people and I lose CONTROL over the money (and in the process money stops controlling me).”

      Wow, I never thought about it this way before. I’ve been of the (somewhat greedy still!) mindset of wanting to “make sure” that what I’m letting go of “counts,” but I’ve never thought of it as just LETTING GO to LET GO. Cool perspective, thank you for this.

  7. Where your heart is, your treasure is. Pretty simple – you put your money where your heart is. Giving to a church is to spread the gospel. If your church isn’t spreading to gospel than you may want to look for a church that is. I don’t give to pay the electric. I give to see lives changed, saved and set free. You can’t put a price in salvation.

  8. David,
    I agree that we need to give 10% to the church out of obedience and the difference between tithes and offerings.
    Pete,
    I love your bottom line that you can tithe/give if you set your mind to it (i.e. “I can’t afford it” isn’t a valid reason not to).

    A point that is worth bringing up. 10% is a biblical minimum. Kinda like the Sabbath is 1 day (not a few hours out of a day). I know it’s OT semantics, but we must be careful not to use an interpretation of the Bible that suits us. A thorough exegetical study of the Bible would tell you that 10% is not enough when you’ve got the disposable income for the luxeries in life. If you are a sola scriptura Christian, you need to be digging in the bible for guidance.

    As far as trepidation about giving that much to the church. I agree you need to be a good steward and if the church isn’t accountable for their budget, you’re at the wrong church. There ARE churches that stretch the dollars they receive.

    I think the discussion shouldn’t be about how little you can get away with giving, but rather how much can you afford to give. That’s not a Christian thing, but a good attitude for all walks.

  9. Although we are unable to afford or budget the full 10% of our income for tithing- I try to pick up the gap with volunteering our time.

  10. I love this blog Pete. I do tithe–not 10% but we are working towards it, and I also give of my time to charities in need. I love your thoughts on this topic.

  11. My parents tithed. As in, 10% in the church offering plate, paid out every week. My dad’s income supported 9 people (him and mom, his two parents, his five kids), so I know it can be done with lots of sacrifice. Sometimes, when we were struggling to put food on the table and I was working as a teenager to put my dollars straight into the family fund, I questioned the wisdom of their choice (read: got mad as hell that I had to work at Blockbuster to see all my hard earned money go to the offering plate instead of in my pocket!) But now I appreciate the self sacrifice, and the huge gesture of faith. I’m not as religious as them – I go to church, but am more skeptical than your average church goer. Nevertheless, even now I think it was a huge symbol – a very practical way to keep from worshiping money. It allowed them to exert control over money by refusing to hoard it. I try to practice the same theory (in a different way) now, as an adult.

  12. Great job Pete! I do believe in tithing and I like your approach to the subject. Also, I like your strategy for gradually increasing your amounts. I definitely believe that you have to feel comfortable with the way your church is spending money in order to be the cheerful giver. Just like any organization, if you don’t feel they are spending money properly, you probably aren’t going to give money to them. In my case, I switched churches. Tithing was important to me and when I felt uncomfortable tithing, it was time for me to leave. Good work!

  13. Nice post. I think it IS hard to make that decision, and we were personally very turned off by the constant begging for money that my Mother-in-law’s former minister seemed to do. Church to me is not about giving money or how much money you can give. It’s about spending time close to God and your faith. Supporting your church’s good works is one thing, but when it seems to be more about supporting the next addition to the building (or Cadillac in the minister’s garage), it’s really offputting. Same thing really goes for any charitable enterprise: don’t get rich off of my generosity. Compensate yourself fairly, but don’t flaunt the money you’ve received through the kindness of others who might have less.

  14. Church members need to be independent thinkers not drones. It is crucial that of you tithe you see where your money goes. If your church spends more money on building new churches then building the community then there is an issue. The scandal in Atlanta where the pastor is accused of molestation of several boys highlighted the abuse of power and drone like behavior of members…ask questions and bring attention to wrongdoings of a church. That way no matter if you tithe 1% or 10% you know your money is going towards God’s work not lining the pockets of greedy manipulativ figureheads.

  15. My church has never taught that you “must give 10%.” We have been taught to give “so that you feel it.” If you just pull whatever cash you have leftover from the weekend Sunday morning and dump it in the plate, that’s not really cutting it. Giving needs to be thought out and needs to be a sacrifice. That means, when you get your paycheck, you decide you are going to give $x amount. Maybe that means eating out less or forgoing the movies that weekend. Some people will only have 2% to give and some will have 20%, but if you’re not feeling a pinch, then you’re not giving enough.

  16. I grew up in a home where my parents tithed and served in the church, and I was taught to do the same.

    Now, as an adult without a church affiliation, and being agnostic-y atheist, I still give about 10% of my income to various charitable organizations throughout the year.

    I give because I feel a responsibility to improve the world around me, and the lives of those less fortunate. Sometimes I just downright enjoy the adorable look on a kid’s face when I pay $5 for a fundraising candy bar, or that $19 bag of popcorn from the Boy Scouts so he can fund a camping trip.

    “You really can afford anything that you make a priority,” is right on. Excuses are weak, and you can’t hide from your own conscience forever.

  17. Totally agree with what you said about affording what you make important enough. Some of the wealthiest people I know (not rich, wealthy) committed to living below their means and making sacrifices well beyond simply tithing 10%. Although I don’t think God is a slot machine that we can simply put some money into and get a lot back, but I do think that he provides the means to live to those who honor Him with their financial sacrifices.

  18. solid post pete! thanks for sharing some good thoughts and getting a great conversation started. money and the church can always be a really touchy subject…unfortunately.

  19. Let me start by saying that the New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent.

    Now, as far as tithing goes, when God gave the Israelites the promised land, he RESERVED, for Himself, a tenth of the crops and every tenth animal. They NEVER did belong to the Israelites. In other words, the tithe was from God’s increase of FOOD, not from man’s income. It was a way to distribute FOOD to the Levites and priests who did NOT inherit any land.

    No one, not even the farmers, tithed on their income.

    The farmers made their income by SELLING and/or barter-exchanging their crops and animals but did NOT tithe on that income.

    Today, ALL born-again believers are priests. ALL of us are called to be deciples of the Lord. No one of us is higher than another. Our bodies are the Temple where the Spirit dwells. According to the scriptures, priests do not tithe.

    Abram tithe on war spoils that didn’t even belong to him, and kept nothing for himself. Anyone follow Abram’s example today? The Bible doesn’t tell is why Abram gave the tenth of the spoils. We can only guess, OR we can believe Biblical historians who say it was custom during those days to give a tenth of the spoils to the king. There is NO example in the scriptures where Abraham ever tithed on his income.

    NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE pays the Biblical tithe today.

    THE FIRST TITHE
    Leviticus 27:30-33 defines this tithe as a tenth of crops and animals in herds and flocks.
    Numbers 18 gives the ordinances, or instructions, for this tithe, and commands this tithe be taken to the Levites.
    Purpose of this tithe: to support the Levitical Priesthood.

    SECOND TITHE
    Deuteronomy 14:22-27: aka The Festival Tithe – a tenth of crops, plus add to that the firstborn animals, and take for the yearly feast.
    Purpose of this tithe: “that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always”

    THIRD TITHE
    Deuteronomy 14:28-29: aka The Three-Year Tithe aka The Poor Tithe – a tenth of crops, kept at home, and invite the Levites, widows, orphans, stranger to eat.
    Purpose of this tithe: to feed the poor.

    Now, tell me. Which of the above three tithes commanded by God does anyone follow today?

    The ONLY people in the Old Testament that were commanded to tithe were those who INHERITED THE PROMISED LAND WITH EVERYTHING ON IT. They got the land, house, animals, crops, etc. ALL FREE AND CLEAR. No mortgage payment or rent to pay. And THEY were commanded to tithe on the crops and animals and take it to the Levites who INHERITED the tithe INSTEAD OF the promised land with everything on it. No one else tithed. Wage earners did not tithe. Jesus did not tithe as a carpenter. Paul did not tithe as a tent maker. Peter did not tithe as a fisherman.

    I count just over 300 occurrences of the words ten or tenth in the KJV of the Holy Bible. 95% occur before Calvary. The number 10 has much significance in the Old Testament but virtually no significance in the New Testament. In fact, some of the few times those words appear after Calvary it is in reference to the Old Covenant.

    At Calvary, the Old Covenant came to its completion. There is nothing after Calvary to suggest that the number ten represents completion.

    Give, yes. Tithe, no. The tithe was disannulled according to Hebrews 7:5,12,18.

  20. OLD TESTAMENT
    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    NEW TESTAMENT
    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    The New Testament makes it clear that we are to use the FIRST of our income to take care of ourselves and our family. We are talking about needs, here, not just anything we want. Then we should give generously from what is left.

    The tithe was NEVER the first. I couldn’t be. The first of the crops, or firstfruits, were taken to the Temple FOR THE PRIESTS while the tithe was taken to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities. See In Nehemiah 10:37.

    Also see Leviticus 27:32 – the LAST ONE out of every ten was the tithe, not the first.

  21. Well done. You covered all audiences. It was well received by Christians, as indicated by the most of the above replies. As an ex-Christian, now atheist, I liked it too. Your no denial, rational approach was what I liked most. You must have read every sentence a hundred times! Good job.

  22. Thanks, Alex. I appreciate the kind words. I did read every sentence a hundred times. I’m glad that I cut the nearly 500 words that I did. They took away from the bottom line, and would have started a pointless debate.

  23. Very interesting post Pete. Everything I have is God’s :.) I pray to be a good steward of it! I’m really enjoying your financial info! I love to see the title: Mrs. Planner. Fantastic!

  24. I agree with Pete. As far as financial reasons not to tithe, for a large majority of us, i don’t think we have any. Almost all of us can find some way to scrounge out 10% of our income to give. Biblically, as a Christian, there is solid proof against it as a requirement.

    – jared

  25. I think tithing is about two things – bringing about the biblical idea of justice and keeping us from allowing money to rule over our lives. Tithing is a discipline we do out of obedience to bring a glimpse of God’s Kingdom here on Earth. Ten percent is just a starting point…the more we give, the freer we are to live as God calls us.

  26. Well, who knew Peter Dunn had a blog about personal finance!? I guess my sister, Jennifer (Newton) Heinrich, did, because she linked to this article on facebook. What a great article, Peter. My husband is a financial planner, CFA and CFP, and we feel very strongly about tithing. I think you did a great job bringing a realistic understanding of the basics of tithing and being honest and vulnerable enough to make us all think about why we do or don’t tithe. My family tithes to communicate to the church and to the world that we know the money isn’t ours, but that we’re stewards, and we want to be good ones. Good article, Peter, I’m adding you to my RSS feed. 🙂

  27. Jesus, in fact, asked for people’s time (spent with God), talents (gifts in service to the body) AND treasure (he asked the rich man to give his money and possessions to the poor). It’s never been an either/or situation. Good blog and I appreciate the conversation about the principle of scarcity. I’m an associate pastor in the Presbyterian Church. Thanks for writing about a topic we all struggle with.

  28. As a rule I try not to let Bronze Age poetry dictate my financial decisions, especially when it comes to donating money to an invisible man in the sky. To the point however, I agree. Sacrifice, whether it is for fear/reward in an afterlife or to better empathize in shared sacrifice with the rest of humanity, is manageable and important. I will echo that there are a lot of ways to be charitable whether it is financially or with time and skills, and also encourage others to “cut out the middleman”: http://i.imgur.com/XiQew.jpg

  29. Great article! I currently tithe, and give 8% of my take home income to my church. I also sponsor a little boy in Africa which is $38/month. And I volunteer every other weekend in the children’s ministry at my church. I get frustrated when I hear “God wants you to give 10% what you earn to the church”. To me, I look at it as 10% total of your time, talents and treasures. If you can give more of any or all, great!!! God will be pleased. But I don’t think he looks down upon those who give something back to the community and/or the church, whether it be time or money, or both. I haven’t always tithed, but for the past 2 years I have and can say that it hasn’t always been easy, but no matter what, I tithed with my time, talents and treasures. What I have learned is not to compare yourself to others and what they may or may not give. This is a personal decision and it is between you and God. Pray about it and do what you feel God is leading you to do.

  30. Wow … once I spun the mouse down the page noticing the long line of comments (Gary Arnold?! You REALLY felt that you needed to post TWO long comments?), I thought that I wouldn’t even waste my time.

    As far as I’m concerned, Pete, I benefit from your opinions only … I’m not interested in reading anybody else’s comments. This is your blog … you’re the expert. I may agree or not agree, but I’m looking to you for financial advice.

    BTW, I’m seminary trained (M.Div., Th.M.), and I have never looked to online blogging for my theological training anyway. I really dig your take on financial matters, Pete, and it’s why I always come back to learn from you. All the best!

  31. Surprised to see this post but I’d say it’s a good first stab at a very rich, at times tense and complicated topic in general. Some great comments too.

    Like many Christian principals, cultivating a life of generosity in managing finances, isn’t restricted to be just beneficial for Christians. The benefits of generous (tithe and beyond) giving prove out consistently for all people.

    Our family has given more than 10% annually for many years to what we treasure and have seen the Lord provide consistently! It requires saying no to things at times but I’m reminded frequently to be true what Jesus said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

  32. Here is a thought, all of you and all of your money is 100% Gods already. He simply wants the first 10%, and you keep the 90%. Malachi 3:10 is the only place in the bible where God says to test him in this. My first painful tythe was for $100 and the next day I made a sale that paid me $1000. Coincidence, I think not.

  33. I’m not going to get into what God wants you to do: the question was is tithing and/or giving realistic and if so, how? You build it into your budget. That’s what we do. It’s as much a part of our budget as groceries or our mortgage. And if we’re tight one month, we never cut our tithing/giving item to under 10% of our pay, just like we’d always pay 100% of our mortgage payment. We cut down on entertainment or dining out if we’re tight one month. If it’s important to you, you make it a priority.

  34. I have always been taught that G-d wants 10% of your tithes AND time AND talents.

    It’s personal, no argument there.

    Truth be told whatever G-d wants from you He will ultimately get whether you choose to give it willingly or not.

    Not much anyone can do about that.

  35. Giving to charity instead of church sounds noble but if every church member did that then there wouldn’t be a church. The tithes and offering pay the salaries (not just for the pastor but for the secretaries and children’s workers and janitors etc) & the bills to keep the electricity and gas on. So if church members stop paying tithes to church then how will a church survive?

    The same is true for charities. Google how much the Director of Susan B Komen foundation makes. Where do u think that money comes from? Donations.

    So why do people think donating to a charity take place of a tithe? It doesn’t. Lol.

    I tithe to my church and give to charities (St Jude’s in particular) and also give directly to people I know who are in need. God continues to bless me and I bless other people.

    I like what Pete says too about being able to afford anything. That’s so true. I’m 100% debt free & I’ve been tithing my entire life. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

  36. Great article! I especially like the suggestion of starting with 1% whatever the financial goal and adjusting every few months. I totally agree with giving some of your tithe to organizations other than your church. We like to support Heifer International and Samaritan’s Purse directly.

  37. Pete, I really respect you & your writing but I am surprised about the comment about what the pastor drives. There are pastors that work long, thankless hours, and on top of that, have a front row seat to the most devastating things that happen in peoples’ lives (tragic deaths, adultery, etc.) Should they not be paid a good salary for that? I would think, Pete, that you would be the first person saying “hey, if they are giving ten percent like they tell other people to, it’s up to them to prioritize what’s important to them in their personal budget, whether it be a car, etc.”

    If you were a personal friend complaining that your church had too many plasma screens, I would encourage you to either get involved with the finances of the church, or find a new church.

  38. Yes it is realistic, it works and you can’t afford NOT to tithe. You have to decide… Would you rather live on a Blessed 90% or a Cursed 100%.

    To Receive Favor From God:
    In Malachi 3:8-10 KJV it reads: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive.

    Not only should a tenth of your income go to God but you should also be giving to the poor (Proverbs 19:17), investing in the gospel or church (Mark 10:29-30).

    To Receive Favor From Man:
    Basically following one of the main commands of prosperity: Luke 6:38 KJV:

    Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

  39. Pete, great article… as a minister I’d like to give a few comments (no ill-will just respectful commentary):

    1. God Doesn’t Have a Bank Account: If you aren’t going to trust your money in the hand of other mere mortals then why give to Charitable organizations? Charitable organizations have other administrative costs (like salaries, office supplies, etc) just like churches… these costs are normal for any organization and are needed to keep the staff paid, the doors open, and the ministries going. It seems that a person who is giving to a church must do the work necessary to find out where their money is going so they can trust them to do what is right and necessary (this is also true for anyone giving to charitable organizations).

    2. Your own poor financial decision making: Completely agree with this point. Well said.

    3. Your other charitable giving: Charitable giving is just a portion of what a church spends the money they receive from their congregation. Our church, for instance, gives over 10% to local, national, and international missions. The rest of the money goes towards administrative costs and funds programs/efforts to share the message of Jesus Christ to our community (both within and without the church walls). The point of the church is to not only to be humanitarians but to be ambassadors for Christ, that is why no matter how we spend our money, it has to be in support of sharing the gospel.

    Your other two points on Scarcity and All or nothing are spot on. 10% is not a hard and fast rule, it should be a decision that is prayerfully considered by the person giving the money. Anyone who tithes should realize the sacrifice that is necessary to do such an act and should realize that this is more of an act of worship to God than it is an act of trust in the church.

    Thanks for the thoughtful article, I enjoyed reading it.

  40. It takes guts to write about this. Thanks for finding the courage! We share many of the same thoughts. I did want to share that a portion of your tithe also goes to pay the salaries of your church staff, so if you regularly attend a church, tithing is important. When I say “tithing” I don’t necessarily mean 10% (we give 2%) but at least giving something regularly. I’ve seen three staff members let go in the past year from my church because of low tithing. We are now down to three full time staff who are working way more than they are paid just to keep my church afloat. It’s very sad.

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