This will be the first of a two part series on tithing. I've come across a great blog entry and message about tithing and I want to pass it along and to start a conversation.
Disclaimer: I do not work on commission. My salary is set (it's been the same for 2 years) and it doesn't fluctuate with our church's giving. So this is not about raising my salary, it's about experiencing God's best in our lives.
Now I realize money is a taboo topic, but since the Bible talks more about money than prayer and faith combined and Jesus himself talked more about money than anything else, I'm willing to have an open conversation about the topic. I found a great entry on Bil Cornelius' blog today. I met Bil at the Evolve Conference. He's a great leader with a great heart and he's an amazing communicator. I'm going to post his blog entry below and then ask a few questions.
I was just about to drop a new blog when this came across my desk. This blog is from a faithful member of our church, and obvious supporter of our ministry. If you are a leader in any way, you should take the minute or so it will take to read this:...money talks.
I just returned home from a birthday party for a three year old. In researching my new business venture, I've priced the different things that are made available for birthday parties. I'm probably underestimating the cost of the party to be $400. On a three year old. If the parents were to read this they'd probably scoff, I wish $400.....the cost alone was not my issue. It was coupled with the really large presents people were bringing. I'm quite sure some of the gift bags cost more than what we spent on our gift, again not the entirety of my issue.
The conversation came around to where people go to church. The second Bay Area came out of my mouth, the talk turned to money. They are always asking for money. The crowd cheers when they announce offering. Money, money, money. One lady made the comment that they were used to putting in their wadded up dollar, "so people saw" them putting in something, and this church was asking for $1,000/year for three years. OMG. Who tithes anyway. "We do". That stopped the conversation quite quickly.
These are the same people who were talking about how many Vera Bradley bags they had, and "Have you gotten the Coach clutch?" Not my normal crowd I guess. No money left after birthday parties and purses.
I haven't noticed the constant money talk at Bay Area. I do know that they ask for it, but it hasn't really bothered me that they do so, since we've been giving. We're the ones who cheer when they announce offering. It's not weird when you are on the tithing side of things. When they were asking for $1000/year we committed to a double tithe, based on the salary of a job that we didn't have at the time. It was more than $1000/year, but we believed that we'd get the job, and the salary bump would be bigger than a 10% bump in giving. I'm not saying that we promised to give in order to get a "raise", but rather we knew God would give it to us if he could give through us. It's worked out well for us. But not at first.
When we first started giving we didn't get the job when promised. Not the first month, not the second month, not the third month. We still gave the first month, the second month and the third month. We have not had any real money problems since. Of course we've had some issues and what not, but there aren't any starving naked kids running around the house. Even a couple of weeks ago we got a letter from our insurance company, they were dropping us because our roof appeared to be an overlay. Turns out overlays haven't been legal since 1993 or something, and the previous owner should have put on a new roof when we bought it six years ago, yadda yadda yadda. This was immediately after promising an attorney several thousands of dollars to adopt our kids, and getting ready to start a business. None of which we can "afford". We're doing what we can, but are relying on God to come up with enough money to pay the attorney, repair our house, start a business, and feed the kids. I don't really want the Coach clutch, but I'm sure He'd throw it in too.
God allows us to test him in the tithe. I'm sure that four years ago when we first committed to giving seriously, it probably was a little bit of a test on our part. I also am pretty sure my crowd tithes. We don't discuss it but their kids are neither starving or naked. The whole "can't afford to tithe" argument goes out window when you have two Lexus' and live in the Lakes. Tithing is not for rich people. 10% is 10% and we get really excited when a tithe has a comma in it, it means good things for us. I'm actually looking forward to the day I can put two commas in a tithe check. Then they'll say "well, if I had ten million, it'd be easy".
I think the problem us humans have is we are used to mathematical accounting. We use the God accounting system and it nets more somehow. So, who tithes anyway, we do, we can't afford not to.
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Too Good? Pretty amazing considering your blogroll. Thanks for the nod.
Posted by: Annie April 28, 2008 at 04:09 PM
This is AMAZING! Thank you SOOOOOOOO MUCH for sharing!
I, too, am one of the crowd that cheers at offering time. It is a BLESSING to give to God! And sometimes it is more than 10%, and sometimes my bank account says no...but God says YES! So, I do. In the end, I know that He will Bless! Not because I gave to get (which I didn't), but because I have chosen to be obedient to His Word. THAT'S enough!
Thanks again for the inspiration!
Posted by: Susan April 28, 2008 at 07:09 PM
I am also a cheerful (cheering) giver of the tithe. I am just trusting God and so far ,He hasn't let me down. Sometimes I don't know how I'm going to be able to pay the bills but I know that God will somehow make it enough.I'm not even afraid when things are really bad, like the house payment went up $300 due to an escrow shortage and there is not very much in the bank. I have had alot and didn't tithe, now I don't have very much and I tithe.I have learned to be content in any situation because I know that God will provide my every need! I made bad choices before(with money) and I believe that God is teaching me how to be a better steward of the resources that He entrusts to me. I will not listen to the enemy when he lies to me and tells me I can't give to God first. I will not mishandle my seed anymore! I will continue to sow my seed into the good soil of BAF through tithes, offerings and service.I can't wait till next Sunday's offering time to sow some seed into God's Kingdom! Yeah!!!
Here are some thoughts:
I think it's awesome that people celebrate their offering, kind of like Mars Hill cheering when Rob Bell says, "if you're giving an offering, there are joy boxes in the back." What would it look like for us to do that?
I realize this is going to sound brash, but I believe we can all tithe. If we're submitting to the "b" word (budget) and tracking our spending, we can give away at least 10% of our income. I also believe it requires serious lifestyle changes, though. We'll never be able to get everything we want (no matter our income), so saying 'yes' to a tithe means we must say 'no' to something else. I also believe that unless we're tracking every dollar we spend, we don't know where our money goes and we'll live under this constant fear of not having enough and a constant guilt from not giving. We can't just write a tithe check and then blow the rest of our money saying, "God will provide." That's not the point.
I think it's hilarious that Bil's church is the church that "is always asking for money." I also found it interesting that the person telling this story didn't think the church was "always asking for money." It was the people spending every last dollar they made on unnecessary stuff for their kids that complained about the church "asking for money." That's both funny and sad.
I agree with the line, "tithing is not for rich people." My parents were dirt poor, but tithed and we never went naked and we always had food. It's NOT a coincidence that when this family began putting God first, they never lacked for anything they needed. God's math is different than our math. 90% of our paycheck, with God in control, goes so much further than 100% with us in control. On paper, it may seem impossible to tithe, but God will come through in ways we don't expect. I really, really, really believe that!!!!!
I thought the responses were as interesting as the actual post, which is why I'd love to have a conversation about this. What do you think? Is the tithe biblical or is it something made up by the institution to support the institution? What are good reasons to tithe? Why don't people tithe? Are there legit reasons not to tithe? Is it a sin not to tithe? Is it oppressive to expect people to tithe? I realize that my above comments reveal my position on tithing, but I'd really like to open up this conversation.
I know this blog is read by people at all different points in their spiritual journey, so any non-anonymous comments are welcome, although I reserve the right to counter any points made in the comments.
Who really does tithe anyway?