Non-biblical reasons to tithe
Our church’s fiscal year begins in April each year, so every March we get to vote on the new proposed budget. Maybe it’s because I spent nine years in the finance industry crunching numbers for clients, but every year I can’t help but look at the church budget from a numbers standpoint.
I look at our bottom line. “What if…” I wonder, and grab the closest calculator to satisfy my curiosity. Though my findings are similar every year, they still surprise and frustrate me each time.
The Bible refers to money over 2,000 times, and Jesus Himself spoke about financial issues at length. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
But, just for fun, let’s ignore the spiritual teachings about tithing and focus instead on just the numbers. Does tithing still make sense from a logical, financial point of view? This is where my “what iffing” has gotten me:
Here’s my math
- First, our church’s annual budget is $12,650,000. Yep – that’s 12.6 million dollars. I’ll admit that that’s a huge number, and we can do so much with those resources. But what if…
- Our church membership is over 20,000 people. If an average of four people are in each family, we can assume our membership is around 5,000 households.
- Let’s also assume that each household has an average income of $50,000 per year. (This is lower than the actual statistics, but I like round numbers.)
- If 5,000 households are each making $50,000 per year, that’s a total combined income of $250 million dollars. Now, what if everyone gave the minimum tithe of 10% of that total amount? That would result in $25 million dollars flowing through the church.
- That would allow us to DOUBLE our budget. Wow!
What would that make possible?
Can you imagine for a minute what your church could do if it were able to DOUBLE its budget overnight?
1. No money wasted on debt retirement
My church has been debt-free since the ‘70s, but I know the majority of churches are not. This means that millions of dollars are wasted each year by funneling money to banks and financial institutions instead of to missions and ministry. When churches are forced to finance large projects, not only does it defy all common sense to pay more for something than necessary, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting saved because of interest payments.
2. Less need for government assistance
If churches around the world could double their budgets overnight, imagine how much money they would be able to put towards helping the poor and needy? It’s not Uncle Sam’s job to help orphans, widows, veterans, the elderly, or the homeless. It’s the church’s job. Many of us are quick to complain about how the government handles its assistance programs, but we forget that the only reason those programs are needed is because the churches are not able to do it themselves.
3. Real people get to put food on their tables
I’ve been a minister’s wife for over 13 years now, and for four years, I was in ministry as well. When families serve in ministry positions, the bottom line is that they do not get to eat unless other people give. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. When your employer’s primary or only source of income is through donations, this is how they pay their people. If the money is not there, they cannot pay their staff. If the staff is not paid well, they either leave to work elsewhere or they live their lives struggling to make ends meet.
I know there are rare examples of “ministers” abusing finances in order to make themselves rich at the expense of gullible, generous people. But if you have those types of people on staff at your church, you shouldn’t be going to that church anyway. When you’re a part of a sound, healthy, Bible-believing church, you’re not dealing with that issue. You’re just dealing with normal moms and dads who just want to be able to put new tires on their cars, pay for their children’s sports or dance or music lessons, or go on an affordable, much-needed vacation every now and then. Normal, non-extravagant needs – just like yours.
4. Buildings and programs increase membership
Let’s be honest. Most people are just drawn to nice things. They’d rather shop at the fancy new grocery store than the outdated one that’s closer to home, and assuming all other factors are equal, they’d rather attend the church with the Buc-ee’s bathrooms rather than the one whose stall doors are falling off the hinges too. An unsaved person may not know about or even care about your church’s in-depth discipleship programs. But they may be very impressed with the state-of-the-art preschool program or the low-cost workout facility you have to offer. Unfortunately, many churches are forced to put off regular maintenance and remodeling because the money just isn’t there, and their membership goes down instead of up because of this. However, if all of their current members just gave ten percent, they’d never have to reuse a communion cup again.
The bottom line is that tithing just makes sense. Put aside the obvious “God tells us to give” truth, and you’re still left with logical and financial benefits that support God’s commands in His Word.
Individually, it may not feel like your measly little ten percent impacts your church’s budget much at all. But imagine the synergy of your part in addition to everyone else’s part. It can’t be done without you.
And just think. All of these possibilities would result if everyone gave only a minimum ten percent to their local church. Just imagine what could happen if we gave even more! Where’s my calculator?!