I can’t sit through another sermon about tithing.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe very strongly in giving. In fact, I believe that we should learn to give at least 10% of what we have, not as a law, but as an expression that we will not consume everything we are given on ourselves.
Tithing is usually taught in a way that saddles an Old Testament law onto the church in order to provide funding for the organizations we have established. Usually this is done under the guise of the local church being declared the storehouse, which means that in order to be a legitimate tithe, your 10% must go to the storehouse. Then if you would like to give more, for example to missions or the poor, that would be considered an offering.
Tithing is a hollow act that replaces spirit-led giving and generosity. When we simply write the check, like paying our taxes or membership dues, we don’t have to open our eyes to the need in the world around us. We assume we’ve done our financial duty, and the church or the government will take care of the needs of the world.
The problem though is that most of what is given to churches is also consumed by the churches in providing the weekly congregational meeting. What kind of giving is it that benefits oneself? And what kind of storehouse is it that distributes very little?
Less than 2 cents of every dollar given to American churches goes to international missions. The billions given to churches and spent by them, in comparison to what actually ends up in the hands of the poor demonstrates that we have not loved the poor.
In an era of growing American affluence, church leaders had an opportunity to lead members in expanding their global concern and giving. Instead we’ve raised the level of performance production and comfort in our attractional services. Giving solely for the purpose of institutional maintenance and programs promotes accumulation and personal comfort.
Don’t even get me started on the prosperity preachers, their gospel of affluence, and their extravagant lifestyles. Even the world can see this is ridiculous! Yet when they are called to account, they dare to claim they are being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel?
Has the church been a trustworthy steward of our giving and resources?
On a related note…
Darryl Dash has a couple of incredible posts about Ron Sider and Shane Claiborne from the Evolving Church Conference that will challenge and inspire you concerning generosity, giving, and our responsibility to the poor. They are worth taking the time to read.