Recently a friend who was contemplating giving money to Process Church wanted to know about giving in general. She asked questions about what percentage of money to give… do I figure the percentage from my gross pay or from my net… does it all have to go to my own church? Here was my response to her.
I wanted to take some time to pray and think this one through before answering flippantly. I’ll answer your questions in the order you asked them. But first I want to compliment you on being honest about how you were feeling and about taking time to really think it through from a biblical perspective.
I do believe tithing is a biblical principal. Clearly in Scripture we see that tithing was established within the Old Testament as a reasonable way to give back to God a portion of one’s wealth so that the work of God could continue (among other reasons). The origin of the word tithe literally means 10% so I think that’s where the whole idea of assigning a percentage came from.
The only usage of the word tithe in the New Testament is when Jesus is using the word to demonstrate that the Pharisees were still keeping part of the law (tithing) but were neglecting more important things like mercy and justice. That said, I don’t think God cares about how much you give. He cares instead about how much of you He already has. The rules changed after Christ. What rules? All of them. It became less about “the law” and more about the condition of one’s heart. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says as much: “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
So the answer to all of your questions is… it doesn’t matter (in terms of percentages or to whom or how much or where it is calculated from). God is much more concerned with our spirit and that when we are giving we are doing so joyfully.
Finally a footnote. I think most pastors who examine the Scripture honestly know this. Sadly few of them preach it because they fear its repercussions practically. I too am prone to trust people (and their money) and not God. The bottom line is this… people do not allow the church to succeed (or fail)… God does.
May God direct your heart. Thank you for being willing to seek His heart on the matter. I will pray that you will come to a place of understanding as to what God would have you do & then do it with a joyful heart.