Saturday, November 25, 2006


Last week, the Christian blogosphere was buzzing about an article in Relevant Magazine called "The Dreaded Church Table." Author Daniel Holland writes about the way restaurant servers argue about who has to wait on the Christians--who are notorious for terrible tipping. What a sad testimony to our lack of generosity.

And yet, it seems the servers shouldn't take it personally. Our stinginess extends to God as well:
"If Christians had given the traditional 10 percent tithe of their income to their churches in 2004, instead of the 2.56 percent that they actually gave, there would have been an additional $164 billion available, according to a report released in October called 'The State of Church Giving through 2004.' If the churches chose to funnel just $70-$80 billion of that additional income to missions and humanitarian works, the basic needs of every person on the globe would be provided." --"The Failure to Tithe," Boundless Line

You may have arguments about whether tithing is binding on Christians who are no longer under the law...fine, take them elsewhere. That's beside the point here, so don't leave comments about it. You're right, we're no longer bound by the law--but as we realize that God gave His only Son to redeem us from the law, shouldn't that motivate us to give MORE than the law requires, not less?


Kat Coble said...

I've heard this statistic before and I'm always made angry by it. But not for the reasons you think.

I grew up in a Christian family that more than tithed--they gave usually 12-15%. And that's not including the fact that my mother taught in a Christian School where she made about 30% of what she could make in the public school system. That right there is the equivalent to giving 70% to God.

But my family's tithe was never all given to our local church. In fact, as Mennonites, we eschew "storehouse tithing". Our tithe was given some to the church, some directly to various missionaries, some to various Christian schools and colleges. Some went to organisations like Mennonite Disaster Relief, some went to fund Bible smugglers who took Bibles behind the Iron curtain.

MANY Christians give this way. This survey only measures the amount which is given directly to established churches. For me, as a Mennonite, I think that 2.5% is about right. We aren't about our buildings, steeples and pews. We are about the Word in Action. I still give this way. My church gets a small portion of my tithe, and the rest goes into the world. I think that's fine. My church has 4 plasma-screen TVs, prime downtown real-estate, wall-to-wall carpeting and Sunday School literature that we THROW AWAY at the end of each quarter.

I feel much more comfortable seeing my tithe dollars feed the hungry, educate young Christians and carry Bibles into China.

And I don't think that's stingy.

Amy said...

Kat, I completely agree. let me clarify--I was focusing on the "if Christians had given" part and not on the "to their churches" part.

Steve and I also spread out our tithe, giving some to the church and some to other missions/ministry organizations/individual missionaries. If that's the case with a lot of other people, I think that's great. Certainly sounds like your church has plenty of excess...that's another topic althogether...but anyway, I'm totally on board with you in wanting to see my money go toward meeting needs around the world and not just toward buying new plush chairs or paving a parking lot.

I think the problem is that an unfortunate number (a majority? I don't have stats to back that up, just a hunch) of the Christians who are giving 2.5% to their churches, are not giving 7.5%+ to God through other routes. They're just spending it/keeping it.

The point as I see it is that that $164 billion would have gone a long way--whether it was all held by American churches (which would probably be a BAD idea anyway) or whether it was spread out among various organizations all working to spread the Gospel and meet basic needs, as you and I are advocating.

Anonymous said...

"You may have arguments about whether tithing is binding on Christians who are no longer under the law...fine, take them elsewhere. That's beside the point here, so don't leave comments about it. "

I don't mean to sound mean or rude, but what you said (see above quote) makes me think perhaps you might re-read your own post about being wise in your own conceits. In that post you quoted "When I am critical of another person’s practice or perspective without taking the time to understand it and ask questions" as an example of being wise in one's own eyes.

Sounds like you are critical of and not interested in any other perspectives on Christian giving.

Hope this does not sound is not my intent. But I thought you were harsh in your comment and judgement.

Amy said...

hmm. point taken...(though I do wonder, why the anonymity? why not leave your name with your criticism?)

perhaps I was being too harsh, as you suggest. to be honest, I do have a hard time imagining any valid arguments for giving less...though I didn't see that so much as "MY" wisdom but as commonly held wisdom from lots of sources.

I didn't want the thread to turn into a debate about whether tithing is binding on Christians because I wanted people to grapple with the implications of our lack of generosity as Christians--not argue about what we do or don't "have" to do.

but perhaps I'm just being defensive now, and I don't want to do that. I do appreciate the honest rebuke. I want to accept criticism sincerely, not respond defensively. I can see how you would think my comment was harsh, and I apologize. thanks for bringing that to my attention and reminding me of my subsequent post.

if you have a different perspective that you think I'm not allowing for, please, feel free to weigh in.