Tithing: A word often misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Tithing stems from the biblical story of Abraham presenting a tenth of the spoils of war to King Melchizedek. And Deuteronomy 14:23 says, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” God’s looking for what it represents – your heart – and He wants you to put trust in Him.
It is urged for members to donate to their church. It’s a financial discipline, and depending on your church and denomination, it may be a requirement or a suggestion. But what it comes down to is tithing supports the needs of pastors and church staff and the work of the local church. It enables your church to be the church by helping others.
Having a church that shines a light on its financials helps members understand church operation. Being open about the budget gives members an understanding how your church operates – it shows all that you do for the church and community.
One way for members to understand the importance of helping others is to have the missionaries you support give insight into what they do. Some churches find giving missionaries a platform to speak to the congregation throughout the year can yield a better return. These platforms can be in your newsletters, bulletins, updates in Realm, videos from missionaries in their field, lunches with them during ministry group meetings – virtual or in-person – and Sunday mornings in the pulpit.
Another way is giving your members ways to participate in church life. Once or twice a year, have a ministry fair for recruitment so your members can find out more about ways to be a part of church life. And be sure to follow up! A couple of times, I remember filling out a couple of forms at my church asking to be involved and I never received a call! Talk about a loss. Being a slip through the cracks made me feel unwanted. I suggest having a ministry fair with tables set up with sign-up sheets available, as well as a spokesperson for each group. And have a point-person who can follow up with those interested! It’s a fantastic time to recruit new members as well as reach out to ones waiting to be asked. A member given an opportunity to volunteer can thrive in church life. Members who volunteer also understand the importance not only of helping but also giving financially to the church.
And possibly one of the easiest ways to increase church giving is to offer online giving. Through our products, one such as Realm church application, you can set up online giving with one-time submissions or recurring giving for churches. A link can be housed anywhere on your church’s website and accessed through Realm. I love it because it’s something I don’t have to worry about — running late. After all, I had to fill out my envelope and checkbook. I like to “set it and forget it,” yet I still know I’m doing my part in helping my church.
The bottom line is God loves us. He gives us grace. Tithing isn’t to earn God’s love. It’s in the giving that encourages a generous spirit. And as Dave Ramsey said, “It’s not about the money – it’s about the heart. It’s about living with the attitude that we’ve been blessed to be a blessing.”
Be a blessing.
Chuck is a clergy member of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has over 30 years of experience in the strategic use of community demographic information, has served as a church planter, and has provided UMC Conference leadership in missional development and ministry advancement.