He didn’t use those exact words, but the author of a feature article in this month’s issue of OUTREACH Magazine appeared to say as much in his article titled, FUTURE FORECAST. Here’s what he said …
“Local church pastors across the board are beginning to recognize that tithes and offerings alone are no longer enough to provide for the needs of their ministries, enable them to pursue opportunities or sustain long-term impact. Growing financial burdens on the middle class, documented decline in religious contributions, shifting generational attitudes toward giving and changing demographics are having a negative impact on budgets.
Given the possibility that states or counties may someday tax church property, and that churches may someday lose federal tax-exempt status altogether, the time to pivot is now. Our entire understanding of sustainability must change. What’s needed is disruptive innovation in church economics."1
From the very beginning, the Bible is clear we are to give to the Lord and are to give Him the best we have (Genesis 4:2-7). A principle repeated over and over again through Scripture. For example, Exodus 23:19 says, “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” Proverbs 3:9-10 tells us to “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
JESUS told us “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, but to lay up treasures for ourselves in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). We do that by giving to God, and JESUS said our giving shows where our hearts really are (Matthew 6:21). He went on to address the issue of priorities and said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” A biblical principle JESUS clearly affirmed in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42.
Some will attempt to say the whole concept of tithing is an Old Testament practice and part of the Law. However, Abraham who Paul said is our “spiritual father” (Galatians 3:7-14), 430 years before the Law was ever given, gave tithes to Melchizedek, a symbolic representation of JESUS or the pre-incarnate Lord, Himself (Genesis 14:17-24; Hebrews 5:9-10). Fourteen chapters later, JACOB had a dream of a ladder to Heaven. When he woke up he knew he had been in the presence of God and committed to be a tither: “And this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you” (Genesis 28:10-22).
Giving is to be part of our weekly lives, “On the first day of every week,” and we should give in accordance with our blessings, “as he may prosper” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Paul also encouraged the Corinthians to give “generously” and “cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6) and told them God would bless them generously and “they would be made rich in every way so they could be generous on every occasion” (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).
From the very beginning, the Bible is clear we are to give to the Lord and are to give Him the best we have.
Luke tells us the first church in Jerusalem gave so generously there were “no needy among them” (Acts 4:32-37), and “the Word of God increased and the number of disciples multiplied greatly” (Acts 6:7).
JESUS said we are to “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). In other words, use the money God gives you to reach men and women and boys and girls with the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST so they can get to Heaven.
God’s plan has always been that His work would be supported by His people in His Church — through tithes and offerings. If you don’t want to give 10% to God through His Church, give 12% or 20%. But the fact is, you and I and every child of God who has ever lived has a God-given responsibility to support His work through His Church.
When you "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength" (Matthew 22:37), giving is no longer a responsibility, it’s a privilege. Of all the faithful givers I know, none of them would describe giving as “something I have to do.” Rather, they would say, “Giving is something I get to do.” And none of them give for a tax deduction or would stop giving if the government took that away.
The author said, “Our entire understanding of sustainability must change. What’s needed is disruptive innovation in church economics.”2
No. We don’t need a new plan. We just need to follow God’s.
God’s plan still works.
© 2019. Barry L. Cameron
1 OUTREACH Magazine. July/August issue. Future Forecast: How a New Approach to Funding Can Lead to Long-Term Ministry Sustainability. Greg Wigfield. pgs. 8-9
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.