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 as a 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 ‘the 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 meantime, 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 mean 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 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 the internal operation.
4. People would pray more
Tithing is so easy! No thinking is 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 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.
6. 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.
7. 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
Jared I love your annalogy of the fruitcake and loving ones Wife. It is amazing how when we put Jesus into any box of leagalism it affects our relationships with others. My many leagalisms are so precious to me and so hurtful to others. Only the light of Jesus can help rid me of them.
A little bit of leagalism hurts alot of our perspectives and motivations in our witnessing life. I too experienced the same blindess to others finacial situations when I believed that the local church and its leadership was the main place to give. In reality everywhere all the time and everything is to be brought under Jesus. My flesh is mad now that free will life has made me so much more accoutable to Jesus himself and not the local church. It is less comfortable. The spirit seeks to destroys the flesh. For example with 100% love thinking I can make less exuses to my wife and boss.
Partial giving thinking lead to partial loving relationshps. I had less responcibility to challenge my sinning brothers or myself when I had 10% love as satifactory thinking. Why should I care deeply or find out about others finacial needs when my 10% was satifactory and belessed? Jesus love belonged mostly inside a local church along with most of my spirituality. 10% of money to Jesus thinking also let me think that I could have certain percentages of my life for me and the rest for Jesus. I still struggle with this.
I gave a satifactory effort at my work, house cleaning, patience for my children, listening to others perspectives so the rest is me time. This is very dangerous and not like Jesus. Jesus is incompatible with partial efforts. God is holy, real love will only do.
Now 100% belongs to Jesus and I am letting Jesus put this into practice in me. I cannot do it at all he has to crush my Idols. Now I must pray to have wisdom to use money time and relationships thinking about motivations.
I need to get to know Jesus better and listen for what he wants. I am not normally that kind of person and I hated any talk of digging to motivations. I still am uncomforatable with non surface issues conserning Jesus but Jesus is smashing my know it all boxes and making me step out in faith. Jared your blog has been apart of setting me free in heaven you will know truly how much.
Legalism has such predictability that I still long for but I know it hurts my friends and family becase it makes me blind. I am tired of accidentally crushing people with my traditions so it is time to suffer change.
Ah yes free will giving is one tool that opens up creativity and prayer over where to give to God. It also helps one to try to understand what God is saying to us about each finacial transaction. This more Jesus like action over money can also translate into more love in relationships, witnessing and work.
People try free will giving and be the priest that Jesus has called you to be. You are the hands of Jesus to your aquaintences neighbors friends and family.
Free will giving as apposed to less than free will giving called Christian tithing is the choice of this blog. Less free giving leads to less love becase the standard is a partial 10%. Jesus is person, percentages are not important to him beause one cannot make a percentage of love. Love is the rule and love is the only Jesus standard for giving.
Good points about free will giving. One thing I think you should mention is that the tithe was never money. It was food and was only paid to the priesthood (which were all Levites.), because they did not have an inheritance like the other tribes of Israel. God was their inheritance. The church today is mis-using the tithe and are dangerously applying the law where it doesn’t apply.
I just was scrolling thru the net, and found your website Tithing & Stewardship. I got a better understanding from this more than ever was explained before. Thank You. I even found the humor & the sense in when I read about how u can’t help anyone if you’ve put it all in for tithes (laugh). Managing your money is what I found in this message and also WE CAN’T BUY GOD’S LOVE, HE LOVES US UNCONDITIONALLY. HE WANTS US TO LISTEN TO HIM AND DO HIS WORKS. SO THAT WE CAN HAVE A TESTIMONY AND HELP SOMEBODY, LIKE THIS “SITE” HAS HELPED ME WITH MY “INSIGHT”.
Renee' Scarbo says
I truly enjoyed reading & learning about Spirit Led Giving. Understanding is the key. And I understood all that you said pertaining to the Tithing subject, And how we can’t help anyone financially if we don’t first learn how to manage our own monies. I know there is no money in the world that we could give to substitute for GOD’s only son JESUS dying for our sins so that we could live again. So, we should do what the Spirit is Leading us to do. Cause only what we do for Christ will last. Thank you for this wonderful message.
Al Sydney says
Hi Renee, We thank God that you are free not caught in this web of deception called money tithing . I hope Christ will continue to reveal his Grace and love to you that is absolutely free so you can help free and love those around you . I agree with you we as christians need to manage our money and be responsible before we can help free those around us .
May Gods Grace be with you .
Renee' Scarbo says
Oh no Al Sydney, I tithe, but I also freely give as GOD lead me to do/as my heart tells me so. One has nothing to do with the other as far as I’m concerned. I tithe, I give beyond tithing, nothing is deceitful to me. I also believe that we should give while we can, tomorrow is not promised, I guess that’s why I need to learn how to take care of me first, I’m always thinking of others and their needs and put their needs before mine, but listen….I’m over 40 something now so….I’ve been getting along just fine with that method, except now I need & want to do more for JESUS and his will. I’m learning to do what I can and GOD WILL DO WHAT I CAN’T. THAT’S IT. Thanks for the reply Al Sydney….May GOD add a blessing to you and your family.