According to a recent report from Barna, 47% of Christians believe it’s okay for members to volunteer their time to the church instead of giving financially (“The Generosity Gap,” Barna, 2017).
“Ironically, some parishioners’ confusion on this question may come from pastors themselves” the report asserts. “Only 39% of pastors say they or other leaders speak from the pulpit about tithing or giving to the church at least once a month (17% once per month, 22% multiple times per month).”
Basically, pastors, we’re not doing a very good job of educating our congregations on the Biblical view of giving.
Church Giving: An Uncomfortable Topic
It’s understandable, really. It’s a topic no one feels especially comfortable discussing, but so happens to be the single most mentioned topic in the Word of God, with some 2,350 verses that deal with giving. If 10% of Scripture deals with church giving, that means we should be dedicating serious time to teaching about it, preaching about it, and testifying about it from our pulpits.
There are a number of ways to address church giving, but below is one “sermon starter” to help get the creative juices flowing so you can build the case for tithing and giving in your church.
Honoring God as the Owner
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,” (Psalm 24:1 ESV).
When we release the tithe of our income and give it to the church and ministry and mission of God in the world, we acknowledge God as the creator and owner of all things—including our income.
It’s a narrow view that says that 10% of our income belongs to God. The reality is, as the Psalmist says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof…” That word for “fullness” in the Hebrew means “the entire contents.” So, in truth, every penny in every pocket belongs to Him. Not just 10%.
If that’s true (and it is) then what we do with every cent we earn says something about our view of God and our values. How are we handling His money?
John Piper, on this point, gives the following example:
“God is wise and knows us deeply. He knows that there is something wrong with the husband who answers his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t give her any time by saying, ‘What do you mean, I don’t give you my time? ALL my time is yours. I work all day long for you and the children.’ That has a very hollow ring to it if he doesn’t give her any ‘especially time.’ Giving her some evenings together and some dates does not deny that all his time is for her, it proves it. This is why God declares one day in seven especially God’s. They are all his, and making one special proves it.”
The same is true with our finances. Giving God a tenth of our income proves our belief that it is all His.
With that in mind, I believe it’s important to make tithe the first “transaction” after our income is deposited. When my wife and I give our tithes, in the memo field we enter, “Thank You, Jesus!”
Not out of obligation. Not out of some legalistic view of surrendering our income. Rather, we honor God as the owner of it all and anticipate His blessings and seal over the remainder.
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