How Spirit Led Giving Could Transform the Church
If Spirit led giving is more beneficial than tithing, then there must be an objective list of benefits to prove it. Here is a list of the positive changes that would come in result of Spirit led giving as opposed to tithing.
1. Church budgets would require more faith to operate through freewill gifts
The tithe acts as a mandated tax system, which implies that you are obligated by ‘law’ to pay it. The tithe works out great for church budgets. Granted not everyone tithes, but still the few that feel obligated to, are consistent and reliable in providing steady income for the church. Regardless of rain, or shine, utopia or apocalypse; these faithful few will tithe.
I can understand how a base salary for church budgets seems to make common sense, but at the same time, let’s look at the pitfalls. Imagine if your leaders want to build a skating rink, bowling alley, and pool hall inside your church. All they have to do is say is the spirit of God is leading them. In the mean time, your consistent tithe enables this poor stewardship because your predictable giving provides no accountability for the spending. They tactfully rely on your tithe because they bet that your fear of the . . . “curse” . . . will keep your money in their pockets. As a tither your money must go towards your home Church regardless of your feelings or desire to give elsewhere.
Imagine a church that will say “we believe that God is calling us to start a homeless ministry, and we believe that He will call others to donate without being forced to do so”? I’m sure all the church accountants will start biting their nails off. According to their faith it’s seemingly impossible to operate a Church by people who are led by the Holy Spirit.
Spirit led, freewill giving takes an extreme amount of faith to accept. Operating a ministry through a mandated tax system requires very little faith compared to spirit led gifts.
To practice a faith that believes the Holy Spirit is capable of convincing a missionary to travel to the remote parts of an African jungle but is not capable to direct others to give freely is hypocritical.
2. Many ministries not called by the Spirit will close their doors
Some have heard the old saying, “if God calls a ministry, he will pay for it”. Unfortunately, many church doors remain open today because of the imposed tax system levied upon the members. The mandated tithe guarantees the place is warm in the winter and the lights are on at night, but it does not hearts are receptive and God is welcome.
If the Spirit of God were in control of funding the ministries, then the Spirit of God would encourage us to give only to those ministries in which He wishes to work in. If you are unhappy with the financial decisions of your fellowship, then most of us are technically faced with 2 bogus decisions. One is to keep paying our tithe with regret, and the other option is to leave. This doesn’t seem like a great choice. The people of God need the liberty to give to any ministry that their heart is pleased with. Look, i don’t believe that all of us will agree with every financial decision of our church body, which means we should not violate our spiritual conscience and blindly follow a legal law.
At any given time, God’s people need the option to practice discernment when deciding which ministry is best suited for monetary support. Spirit led giving truly practices the cliche statement, that if God calls a ministry, then God will pay for it.
3. More needs would be supplied rather than wants
You don’t have to beg for givers when you see someone in a desperate fight to keep their family healthy because of a financial hardship. Within my Church fellowship, we are building homes for poor people in Guatemala. Once you hear their testimonies, and hear about their spiritual and physical struggles, many times people are anxious for the offering plate to be passed around.
On the other hand, when you look at 3-D models of the potential state-of-the-art fitness facility, many times the pastor has to preach a mini sermon on tithing prior to the offering plate being passed around. They have to lay the guilt on you and make you feel the pressure. If it’s not guilt they impose on you, then their other tactic is to get you to salivate over this nice new facility. So more than likely your desire to give is out of greed or guilt, and not out of a cheerful heart. Let me be clear . . . I’m not saying that tithing can’t be done with a right heart, or that church buildings are all bad.
Spirit led giving allows us the choice to put your money anywhere. The tithe only allows us one option – put your money in the “local storehouse” offering. The responsibility of church leaders is to distribute your tithe according to needs or wants. Many times, our leaders may do a great job, but on some occasions, your desire may be to give elsewhere.
Most churches are setup to appeal to our greed because when we walk in we expect cushioned chairs, hi-def screens, marble flooring, and fancy sight and sound. If we stop seeing these amenities, we begin to wonder where our tithe is going. We give our tithe partly because of the luxurious benefits we receive from it. When people aren’t seeing any new TV’s or equipment in the church, then we start questioning where our tithe is going. This cycle causes most of our tithe to be spent on church amenities and not on the real needs. No wonder recent giving statistics have stated that 85% of what religious organizations bring in is spent on internal operation.
4. People would pray more
Tithing is so easy! No thinking involved. No questions. No doubts. Just take your paycheck, multiply by .10, and now you have your tithe. You don’t need to pray or ask God about anything. This is the epitome of automatic Christianity.
Christ didn’t die so that we can continue to blindly follow rituals that require no communication with Him. Christ died so that he could repair the relationship between God and man. He tore the veil for a reason. If he wanted us to continue the traditions that enable automated worship, then he would have kept the veil intact in front of the holy of holies.
Spirit led giving is an opportunity for God to confront you individually about your giving, and an opportunity for you to listen. What a boring relationship would i have with my wife if all my deeds were spelled out in my vows. A romantic relationship is spontaneous, sacrificial, and creative. If you were to treat your spouse the same way you treat God with your tithe, i believe many of you would be sleeping on the couch.
It takes work, communication, and listening to understand and hear what my wife’s desires are. I give my unknown acquaintances the same fruit cake year after year for Christmas. But the reason why i can give my wife things that mean something is because “I KNOW HER“. Do you know God? Tithing is just like that stale fruitcake you give to that person year after year. The absence of a personal relationship is an excuse to forgo sacrifice, creativity, and spontaneity.
Same time, every week pagans come to their stone god and present a sacrifice. They don’t know if that’s what the Buddha wants, because he is dead and his memories are made of stone. On this note, Christians are great at pagan worship because we forget that our God is actually living as well. We have an opportunity to communicate with a living God, but instead we are satisfied with returning every week with the same gifts, even though God is looking for something else. He might as well be stone because somewhere between his lips and our ears His requests seem to hit some mortar.
Tithing can be an escape route to avoid communication with God- “I don’t have to talk to God, nor do I have to come face to face with his holiness. All i do is just sign my name on that line, and now I have one thing accomplished without even confronting God!”
We have to ask ourselves if tearing the veil to the the access of the throne room of God was actually intentional?
Spirit led giving is a great opportunity to pursue what God wants you to do with His money. Many of us hate confrontation, and even more of us hate confrontation with a holy, powerful God. Spirit Led giving requires us to counsel with God on our giving. Sure, a set standard, such as tithing, can eliminate the battle with excuses, but it cannot eliminate greed that dwells in your heart.
5. Spirit led giving does not appease the hearts of those who could afford more than 10%
Tithing kind of works like an alibi. It’s the sort of evidence you present to the defense proving that you are innocent. Not that you couldn’t have done more, but who could point the finger at you and exclaim, ‘guilty’. You paid your tithe, so you are covered.
If i believe my tithe protects me from the curse and the devourer, then why would i care to give more than 10%? But if i believed in Spirit led giving, i have no security blanket to protect my conscience from poor giving. Either I will have to ignore God and my conscience, or will need to give what God is telling me to. Tithing is not there to fall back on as a safety net.
More would be able to pay off debt
I’ve written a few blog posts already about tithing and debt, but this always needs to be reiterated. Tithing, while in debt, does not protect your testimony from poor stewardship. Actually it would just prove that you have a problem with money leaving your pockets too often. You are not a good steward if you serve God with your tithe and yet you also are a slave to debt. You cannot serve two masters.
I’d rather that you pay off debt, and learn from the guilt and embarrassment while you are empty handed as the offering goes by. Tithing does not teach good budgeting skills, nor can it promise to teach you self control. Get your budget and spending under control first, because that’s what the world will see. Then begin to enhance your giving. We are so worried about what Johnny Steeple and Mary Chapel are thinking about us in the church. The world does not need to see you giving tons of money to the church while ignoring practical stewardship principles. They are going to think you are in a cult ;)
One story i always state as a reminder to tithing while in debt. Remember the master who left 3 servants with talents while he went away. The first two servants invested their talents and gave the master more than their initial amount. The third servant buried his talent and gave all of it back to his master. The thing to remember is that the third servant, who gave 100% of it back to his master, was considered the ‘wicked’ one.
6. People would connect more closely with one another
I would consider this point more on the un-obvious side, but i believe is of crucial importance. This is one of the things that i’ve struggled with whenever i began Spirit led giving. Believing in Spirit led giving is all fine and dandy, but how do i find out where to give my money to? Certainly God wasn’t going to start appearing to me in dreams or paint a message in the sky. Praying does help to bring some ideas to mind, but that can’t just be it.
Shortly after practicing freewill giving, i began to realize that i needed to find out what other’s needs were. Before, i didn’t know about many financial needs. I didn’t really worry about it either. The church leaders were the ones with that job. I just gave them my tithe and they worried about it. But now, i have to connect with my brothers and sisters to find out their needs. I need to know how they are struggling.
I’m no counselor but most of us have something to contribute whenever we speak with one another about problems in our life. For many of us we can help by paying for someone’s gas to work, or pay for books for school . . .etc. Tithing doesn’t require us to be socially intelligent with our giving. All we have to do is drop it in the plate. There’s no need to listen to your brothers financial problems because you already gave your tithe away anyway and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Spirit led giving forces me to connect one-on-one with my brothers & sisters. I need to hear what issues they are dealing with in life. I need to know if money would help them start up a ministry. Spirit led giving requires me to be in tune with those in my spiritual family. This also requires my senses to be on alert. I am more aware of physical needs around me now that i am free to give towards anything. I was so narrow minded prior to Spirit led giving