There is a lot of discussion going around church planting circles about why and how we should approach the issue of “offerings” in our churches – especially where visitors are concerned. It is good for us to ask questions like, “why do we give?”, “when in the service should offering occur?”, and “should we require newcomers to give?”. These are valid questions. How we answer them has direct bearing on how our church is perceived, and ultimately how Christ is reflected. At Thrive, we too have wrestled with these questions – and others.
At Thrive, we do not “require” anyone to give, so no one ought to feel obligated to give – neither the newcomer nor the long-time attender. However, we do believe there are biblical reasons why we should feel compelled to give, so we do ask that people give. However, our emphasis is not on giving “much” but rather giving “well”.
There are two reasons to give to God’s church.
First, God calls us to support the church so that it can do its work. Unfortunately, in this world it does take money to do ministry. From paying the rent to funding outreach programs, money is required to be effective.
“Tithing” is a practice that started in the Old Testament. Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:26, and 2 Chronicles 31:5 are just a few of the Old Testament passages that describe the “tithe”, which is described as a “portion” (10%) of your blessings, that belong to God. The “tithe” was used primarily to support the church workers as they carried out the duties of the church, as God commanded them, as a full-time job. In the New Testament, we also see this church-worker support system described (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). However, there is no specific percentage prescribed, as there is in the Old Testament.
There has never been a debate over whether or not people should give to the church – we all should absolutely give to her. However, there has been much debate over how much. At Thrive, we believe that the essence of the purpose behind the “tithe” is not how much one is to give, but rather the heart and motive with which one gives.
The second reason we give is because “giving” to God is an act of worship. It is interesting to note, that from the beginning, “giving” has always been part of the “worship” activities of God’s church. In fact, we first learn of “giving” to God in the story of Cain and Abel, which preceded the rules handed down from God through Moses. While we could never adequately express our thanks to Him through money, “giving” has always been a way that God gives us to show our love and thanks to Him in a substantive way.
So, we should give, but how much? Well, that is up to you. God does not ask us to give “much”, but rather to give “well”. James 1:5 suggests that we should seek such answers from God, and we agree! In fact, we believe that the underlying motive behind the Old Testament and New Testament approaches to tithe is fundamentally about the motive behind our giving rather than the details surrounding our giving. We believe that the essence of giving is described in the story described in Luke 7:36-50 where a very thankful woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them clean with her hair. This spirit of giving is reinforced by Mark 12:41-44 where we are told of the widow giving her last two coins.
When we give, we must not give out of a sense of obligation. Instead, we give out of a sense of worshipful thanks to God for His provision, mercy, and grace in our lives. What we give should be a reflection of this worshipful thanks. Truly, it is not required that we give “much”, but rather that we give “well”. When the offering plate is passed to you, I pray that you have considered how “well” you are giving.
Newcomer, some churches will tell you that they do not want you to give. Since giving is an act of worship, I dare not prevent you from experiencing worship through giving. Therefore, I will not make such a suggestion. However, since we should never give out of a sense of obligation, I ask that you worshipfully consult the Holy Spirit as you make the decisions of “if” and “how much”.