We give our money and things when there is a need that we can meet:
*Don’t bail out on this when you get angry. Just keep reading and finish it. And then if you are still angry, please reach out and begin a discussion. Contact info is listed at the bottom of the post.
In Acts 2 we see an explosion of the church. Thousands of people gathered daily to devote themselves to eating together, to prayer and to the Apostles teaching. They had one goal in mind, and they shared everything they had to meet someone’s need. As a result: Jesus was saving people every single day. Why? I don’t know, but that’s what the scriptures say that Jesus was doing.
This one is pretty straight forward. Yes it is a Biblical concept to give money to the church. Is there a set amount? Yes, there are scriptures in the Old Testament that tell us how much God’s people were told to give. It’s believed that God’s people in the OT gave somewhere around 20% to God when it was all said and done. (check out this article from The Gospel Coalition for further tithing discussion). Today some pastors will say we are supposed to give 10% to the church and any additional can go somewhere else. I typically hear Malachi 3:10 to reference this:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, ‘says the Lord Almighty,’ and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Mal. 3:10)
Two things I want to highlight here:
1 — Our churches are not the storehouses. Just because we don’t have a storehouse now doesn’t mean we have to find one.
2 — I have yet to hear a pastor reference this passage who then follows that up by teaching the entire book. (If you are a pastor and you just got upset with me and said, “Oh yeah, next series is ‘Malachi — Sometimes What We Hear From God, Isn’t What We Want To Hear From God” — Good: achievement achieved ;-).
We could go round and round all day long debating how the OT translates to the church today and what we are and are not to do as far as tithing goes. Here’s the thing: what is clear in the New Testament (Acts 2) is that when there was a need, the church met it. If we just did that. Like that’s all we did, we would give a lot more money than we do now. And we would give more to the right things. I’m going to say this knowing some pastors are going to burn this statement… If your church pulls 13 million this year from giving and has a 2 million dollar overage in their budget, they don’t need your money… but someone else does. There’s another ministry, organization, or just a hungry person that needs you to take what God has entrusted to you and give it to them. I’ll also say that if you’re pastor isn’t practicing all 7 things listed in The Perfect Church journal with consistency, then you have inadequate leadership and they definitely don’t need your money. (Not because those are things I wrote, but it’s because they are the things that Jesus gave us as normative things a believer does.) If a pastor isn’t doing the normative things a believer does, he’s not a pastor — he’s a puppet. (Intro: ‘Am I a man….or am I a muppet’ — music…)
Potential Questions/Responses right now:
Q/R:“You can’t say that!”
A:I just did. If that makes you angry, ask God why and then I dare you to have the willingness to listen. I know that makes me sound angry at someone (and there was a time when I was) — please see Resolving Conflict under Loving each other Well — the truth is, there are some pastors that need to be fired. The most loving thing to do would be to remove them from their positions as leaders ANDallow them to be shepherded by those who actually shepherd appropriately. The most loving thing Jesus did for me besides saving me was remove me from a leadership position for a time in my life so that I could be shepherded through hidden sin. Literally the greatest most impactful 10 months of my life. Churches are closing down daily across the nation and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Weak, slow, lazy churches should close up shop. Either start being part of the solution or stop being part of the problem. I will also say that some pastors work tirelessly and are paid peanuts. Student pastors, Senior pastors of small rural churches, bi-vocational guys… I get it. But it’s ok to test your pastor. It’s ok to ask, “Is this guy really someone I should be following?” ie. David and Nathan in 2 Sam. 12. (Even the best don’t get it right and need to be rebuked at times) — the question is, can he receive it? If he can’t, you don’t need to follow that guy. That was the difference between David and Saul. It’s ok to leave when Saul starts throwing spears. See also when it’s right to leave a church (coming soon).
We should all be checking our budgets and seeing where there is a gap in what we have and what we do with what we have. This is one of those things we can practice in ‘community’. Meaning, we should on a regular basis be letting other people who 1 — love us, 2 — love Jesus, 3 — have a history of rebuking us well: those people should be allowed to access what we are doing with our money and pointing out the areas in our financial expenditures that need to change. But then we actually have to change those things. Like give them a spread sheet of your budget. Swap spread sheets, take a week to look over each others finances, pray thru, search the scriptures and then come back together and point out areas where things need to change and encourage areas that are consistent with what a believer should look like. (Yes, I have done this. Yes, I will do this again.)
If there’s not a point when you’ve seen a place to give your money to someone else, then there may be something wrong. If we’ve not run across a moment when we can give what we have for someone else, then we may need to change our environments to expose ourselves to the opportunities. I don’t mean just giving money to build another church building, or to give regularly to your church. That’s great. We should be giving to our church to support those who lead us and devote their time to the shepherding of the body and preparing and encouraging us to do the work of the ministry. But we should be giving to feed hungry people. There are roughly 820 million people in the world today suffering from hunger. Yes, half of those are in countries suffering from significant conflict, but at the same time, how many of us are giving money monthly to feed just the number of mouths we feed inside our home? Some of this is just being aware of areas to get involved.
We should be supporting ministries that are front lines in helping hurting people find hope and healing or freedom. We should be supporting those who are rescuing people from slavery and human trafficing. We should be giving to child cancer treatement centers. We should be giving to (insert need here). Some of the best shepherding in the church today is happening outside the church. Partially because it should be. Hurting people many times don’t come to the church to find help, so these ministries or people are simply going where the need is at. However; there’s a reason that many people don’t first think: “I need help, I’ll go to the church” — because the church as a whole isn’t doing what the church is supposed to do.
The point is, our time (We Serve the Church) and money are what we tangibly bring to the table as contributions to what God is doing. I heard it said one time, “It’s like the little boy that Jesus took his lunch and fed 5,000+ people with. Jesus didn’t need that kid’s 2 sardines and 5 biscuits. He could have done it with nothing, but the little boy got to go home not telling his mom how some dude named Jesus took his lunch, but — “Momma!! Jesus used my lunch!” It’s the amazement that God would choose us to be used by him that should make this that much more exciting for each of us.