Who knows who pays what?

My Bishop blogs.  I didn’t think I would ever be able to say that, but, here we are.  A recent post includes three points Bishop Lowry attributes to Rev. Ronnie Yow in an address on “new ministry in new ways.”  Rev. Yow says these three things are important:

  • Dead worship will not bring anybody to Christ.
  • No pay, no say – if you are not tithing you should not have a say in the direction the church is taking.
  • The reason this church is dying is that pastors don’t know how to pray.

For now, I want to tackle only the second of these “nuggets” (Lowry’s word). I have these two questions:

  1. Should pastors know the giving commitments of church members
  2. How do you know if someone else is tithing?

I have heard lots of discussion both ways on question 1, and I believe pastors ought indeed to know what folks commit to giving.

The second question is more difficult, though, unless contributors also submit tax forms with pledge cards.  I am pretty sure that the majority of church folk (in every church I’ve been a part of) do not tithe.

How different would the leadership of your church look if only tithers were allowed?  And again I come back to: how do you know who is and who isn’t tithing?


13 thoughts on “Who knows who pays what?

  1. I don’t think that pastors should know the giving commitments of church members at all. In fact, I really bristle at the idea of essentially turning church members into shareholders according to how much they give. (As a side question, is this Yow guy in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy while not renewing unemployment benefits?)

    Perhaps I’m old-fashioned or idealistic or something, but I’m a believer that, despite the need for resources to run the church, we should focus on being there for spiritual development, not financial development.

    • In the abstract, I could probably agree with you. However, having pastored several churches and known giving commitments, I will tell you this: members (or participants) likely to whine/complain the most are NOT those who are actually very invested financially.

      And, to make sure I give you plenty to respond to, I do not believe there is a real distinction between spiritual and financial development. Where your treasure is, there is your heart.

      • The concern for me is not who invests in the church, but rather in whom the pastor invests his time/energy/effort. Being human I can’t see any way to be purely objective about it – we all play to our audiences. After all, they’re the ones who support us But are the ones who can afford to tithe the ones who will make decisions that will take into account the needs of those who cannot afford to tithe?

        In an ideal church, yes. I’ve yet to find one, though. I don’t think finances are the only way to give – I can’t afford to tithe, but I certainly am not shy in giving my time and putting other talents to use.

        I would say there’s a very real distinction between financial and spiritual development. Money’s a tool to be used for better or for worse. Is spirituality the same?

    • Michael – I completely agree that pastors run the risk of playing to a particular audience. In my experience, those who are tithing are less demanding. less negative, and a better audience to play to than those who are not invested in the church.

      I also agree that money is not the only way to give! When I talk of tithers, I specifically DO NOT mean those who give the most money to the church. Too often, very wealthy people give large amounts that, in terms of what they have, is really very little. As a pastor, I always more appreciated someone tithing a teacher’s salary to a wealthy person’s more-dollars-less-investment.

  2. Since the tithe was an Old Covenant law that ended at Calvary per Hebrews 7:5,12,18, I’d say I’d prefer a Church leadership that understands that tithing is no longer a requirement rather than one that supports man-made traditions over the Word of God.

    • I read the three verses you pulled out of those paragraphs (neither verses nor paragraphs appeared in the original text, of course), and red it very differently! Melchizedek, a type of Christ in this passage, also received the tithe; so it wasn’t just a matter of OT law, which came later.

      In another sense, though; I agree with you – perhaps the tithe is antiquated; the NT standard would be more like that practiced in Acts, where new believers liquidate what they have and give it all to the Church.

      Either way, I still contend that if one is not financially committed to a Church, one is, indeed, not committed to that Church.

      • I personally know of poor families who are very much dedicated to their local church. They give their time and talents but just don’t have the money to give very much. They give what they can, but that isn’t much.

        One of my godsons goes to a local church with his wife and four children. He supports himself, his wife, his four children, and his mother-in-law. Financially, he gives what he can. His wife is involved with the youth activities. He was ready to teach Sunday School when all of a sudden, the pastor told him that he cannot teach, nor can he or his family be members of the church because they don’t tithe. He loves that church and he and his family keep going as guests, and his wife and children are very much involved in the activities.

        When you limit positions in the church to those who tithe, or support the church at a certain financial level, you are SELLING the positions. That is NOT giving from the heart. You wind up with possibly getting a few in positions who gave IN ORDER TO BUY the position.

    • Gary, as I said, or intended to say above to Michael, I am NOT talking about people who give a certain dollar figure. I would rather populate the leadership of a church with people tithing their minimum-wage income than with billionaires who give thousands.

  3. Everyone can afford to tithe. If they can’t tithe today, they can develop a plan whereby they can begin tithing in 6 or 12 months. Here’s the thing: you either believe that God is the ultimate provider of all things, or you don’t. If God is the provider, and we tithe, God will provide. The provision doesn’t come from our wages. It comes from God. The church is the only place in the world where people who make no investment of time, talent, labor or money can come in and call the shots, often to the detriment of those who make the sacrifice.

    • NOBODY pays The Lord’s tithe today. Since God defined His tithe as a tenth of crops and animals in herds and flocks raised on the Holy land, giving a tenth of one’s income to the church is NOT Biblically tithing. It is merely GIVING a tenth of one’s income.

      You either follow God’s commands on tithing or you don’t. You can’t change the definition and ordinances and then claim you are tithing per God’s Word.

      Those who “claim” to be tithing today are following man’s traditions, not God’s Word.

    • Not at all. But I don’t believe that money should be a factor. How much money a person has or can afford to give has nothing to do with how much a person is committed to God and/or the church.

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