Could a theology of giving revolutionize and revitalize a local church in a post-Christian culture?
January 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It just might.
Here are some initial thoughts on the topic I posted on my personal Facebook page, and I hope to explore this further as time allows.
“While tithing isn’t law, I do believe giving should be systematic (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:5). I like to think of it as a spiritual discipline like prayer and fasting (or as Jerry Bridges calls the disciplines – an instrument of grace. See 2 Corinthians 8:7). Without being systematic and deliberate in our giving, we’ll always find that other obligations and desires squeeze out whatever we might have been able to give. Being systematic allows us to make conscious decisions based on faith, and most of us will find that we’re able to give far more than we thought we could.
“John Piper says that any middle to upper class American is probably “robbing God” if only giving 10%.
“I find that by giving at least 10% there is not only the joy of giving and the encouragement of watching God provide, but as an instrument of grace I’m freed from anxiety and control of money. Even in the old covenant, tithing was a means of participating in the community of God’s people and the life of God (Deuteronomy 26:1-15).
“But I still think that even greater attention these days needs to be placed on how churches use money. This was the epiphany I had studying the topic this past week. In order of importance, giving in a NT church should be 1) helping the poor; 2) spreading the gospel beyond the local community; 3) encouraging and facilitating the ministry of teaching in the local community.
“My challenge to pastors, elders, and other leaders is to make sure that the gifts their churches collect each week are reflecting these biblical values. Doing so would probably require us to entirely restructure how we do local ministry (we’d have to make adjustments concerning buildings, programs, and staff), but that might not be such a bad thing.”
As those who have been “released from the law so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code,” (Romans 7:6) I don’t teach tithing as a requirement of believers. It’s too limiting. Those transformed by the gospel will generally give much more.