An Open Letter to the church from the Church on Tithing
You want us to tithe, and we can appreciate that. We’ve listened to your sermons, read your books, and understand all of the arguments for tithing as both a principle and a discipline.
But there are a couple of things we feel the need to talk about:
Tithing is hard for a lot of people, often for reasons you don’t completely know about. That’s okay. The fact that it’s difficult doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. In fact, sacrifice matters because it’s difficult. So in spite of hardship, many of us still give.
You need to honor this sacrifice. These people in your churches, often ones who the least least to spare, give because they believe in the principle of tithing, they’re passionate about compassionate work, and they trust you. It’s time for you to start asking difficult questions about how that money’s spent.
We’re giving to Jesus through you
You have convinced us that giving is an act of worship, and we believe it. So we give joyfully with the expectation that those finances will be used to further Christ’s kingdom and facilitate the work he’s passionate about.
We realize the needs of the church have to be met. Offerings keep the doors open and the lights on. But as church finances grow, the budget doesn’t need to grow, too. We don’t necessarily need an espresso bar, a smoke machine, or a huge staff, but we do need to know that money is getting to the needy.
If we got to see our finances at work touching lives and meeting needs, we’d be happy to feel like we’re tightening our belt in other areas. As a matter of fact, a lot of the crap we invest in so people will feel like we’re cool and relevant isn’t nearly as attractive as being mobilized with our time, energy, and finances toward issues that matter.
People are aching to be a part of a revolutionary movement that’s significant.
The church in Acts (not to mention most churches in the rest of the world) didn’t use their facilities as an evangelistic tool. In fact Acts 2 suggests that the time people spent in each other’s homes sharing what they had with each other did more to grow the church than a bigger sanctuary or new carpets and chairs ever could.
Sometimes these things may be a necessity; that’s fine. Let’s make sure that we’re struggling with every decision to spend money on stuff that serves us. Let’s not fall for the idea that somehow spending money on us is for the benefit of others.
The church (not just the people) needs to start tithing
We want you to do what you expect from us. Start giving 10% away—right up front. If we don’t place others first, we’re going to continue running the risk of investing money into facilities and things that are important to us but not necessarily to Jesus.
We’re not talking about what we’re required to give to our denominations or missions. We want to see 10% of our collective finances poured into the lives of the needy in our own community. Where our treasure goes is where our hearts will follow. Why don’t we pour that out on the people we say we want to serve?
That’s just a start. We’d love to see the church grow in the percentage it’s able to give away. Many of us followers would be happy to meet in a parking garage if we felt like we were doing work that was powerful, life-changing, and significant.
Don’t tell us why the tithe is important—model it. We want to give. We’re happy to give. We only want to feel like it matters.