Finally, I feel like I have a moment to write about the chapter on tithing in Pagan Christianity by George Barna & Frank Viola. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. If I had the time, I would have read it from front cover to back cover in one sitting- all 275 pages. There are many people out there that are against tithing, but not as many understand the spiritual, as well as functional discrepancies that tithing creates within the church. Frank Viola understands the discrepancies and portrays them in this book very well.
The whole theme of Pagan Christianity is an exploration of the roots of our church practices. Frank Viola goes through a whole list of things, and of course the topic of tithing was the most exciting for me to read. Let’s just get to the meat. Viola says,
“Under the Old Testament system, tithing was good news to the poor. However, in our day, mandatory tithing equals oppression to the poor. Not a few poor Christians have been thrown into deeper poverty because they have felt obligated to give beyond their means.”
The church has not only wrongfully integrated the tithe into the Church system today, but they’ve taken away the power to its most essential blessing- to take care of the poor. First, the Church budget and its wants are put in position above the needs of the poor. Second, we require the poor to contribute 10% of the little money that they have, which worsens their situation. Let’s face it, i know God is all powerful, but he hasn’t promised a never ending supply of oil and flour to the poor, because he’s given us a responsibility to care for them ourselves.
This next quote from Pagan Christianity talks about clergy salaries and raises a very good point. I had never thought about this until it was mentioned here,
“A further peril of the paid pastorate is that it produces clergy who feel “stuck” in the pastorate because they believe they lack employable skills. . . All of the schooling and training had been dedicated to studying and preaching the Bible. While these skills are noteworthy, they are of limited appeal in the secular job market. The major hurdle they now face is forging a new career to support their families.”
Guaranteed, steady salaries that employ full time pastors can create many stumbling blocks. The above mentioned is one of them. Some things to think about. One, should pastors be a full time staff member, so that when the time comes to leave the ministry, that they can provide for their family with some experience in practical skills? Two, does their steady income and lack of practical skills keep them locked in the ministry regardless if God is calling them out? What if ministers are asked to step out because of sin, or whatever else? Then what? Tell me what you think?