For many, the exhortations by the pastor and the instructions in the Bible to give are not convincing enough. Only about 5 percent of Americans tithe and only about 12 percent of Christians tithe.1 If being encouraged by your pastor or reading about it in the Bible doesn’t persuade you, there are practical reasons to tithe too.
- It teaches you to pay attention to your finances. Giving away a fixed percentage of money on a consistent basis causes you to regularly determine how much you earn and assess how much you are able to spend. If you only pay attention to whether or not you have money in your bank account, you will never create a budget, reduce wasteful spending and choose financial goals.
- It teaches your family to give. If you are a parent, teaching your children to help others—financially or otherwise—is likely one of your goals. “Actions speak louder than words” has become a cliché because it is true. The most effective way to teach your family to do something is to do it yourself.
- It keeps you invested in your church. By giving money to something, whether it be a church, a nonprofit or a local startup, you feel more invested in it. You will care more about what is going on at your church, care whether or not your church is succeeding in its goals and you will be more likely to want to have a say in church decisions.
- It causes you to assess your priorities. Tithing requires you to make a decision about your priorities. You have to find what you believe you are called to support, but you will not find it if you do not first decide to give.
Read more at https://outlookmag.org/why-tithe/
What is the difference between a tithe and an offering?
A tithe is a fixed percentage of your income or monetary possessions. An offering is not a set amount and is not restricted to your income or monetary possessions.
A tithe (in the Seventh-day Adventist church) is governed by a set of church guidelines that determine how and where it is used. An offering is not. If the offering is a monetary gift, it can be put toward many different purposes. Or it could be something other than a monetary gift. In the Seventh-day Adventist church’s official statements is a list of 24 principles and guidelines for what should and should not be done with tithe money. At the very end of this list is a short statement that says, “NOTE: The foregoing policies do not apply to offerings. Members make the decision as to where their offerings are directed” (Official Statements: Guidelines: Use of Tithe).
An offering is much more than simply a portion of your income or following a list of commands. It is a willingness to give. It is a sacrifice of what you haven’t already given back to God. This includes your money, but it is much more than your money. It is your time, your talents, your body and your money.
Should I tithe on my net income or gross income?
The point of tithing is to help others and trust God. This can be accomplished regardless of whether we give based on our net income or our gross income. Worrying ourselves over the exact dollar amount we are supposed to be giving means we may be more concerned about the actions than their results.
God wants much more than a giver, He wants a relationship with the giver. If we fret about whether we should be tithing on our net income or our gross income, but we do not help others and do not cultivate a relationship with God, we have missed the point of tithing. Reducing our religion to an argument about whether or not we are robbing God or receiving our full share of His blessing does not address the underlying fact that others need us—and God wants us—to give cheerfully, no matter if it is 10 percent of our net income or our gross income.
How are tithes used in the Adventist Church?
Your tithe is collected into your local conference treasury along with the tithe from all the other churches in your conference, but it does not stay there. Your tithe money is put to use in God’s work. Tithe is used to fund many things in the church, and these vary depending on the union you reside in, but approximately 84 percent of the tithe dollars given stay within the union where they are given, and 71.5 percent stay within the conference where they are given.
Each conference chooses its own way of dividing up tithe according to the North American Division policies, but most are similar. The conferences in the Mid-America Union begin by giving the North American Division and the General Conference about 16 percent, including about 1 percent toward special assistance for other conferences; giving roughly 9 percent to the union—of which 4 percent is used for operations and 5 percent for Union College and conference programs; and giving about 3.5 percent directly to Union College.
The remaining approximately 71.5 percent goes into pastors/churches, education, office/miscellaneous, youth, and ministries within each conference. The amounts change from year to year, but the approximate percentages are as follows:2
- Pastors/Churches (47%)
- Education (11%)
- Office/Miscellaneous (6.5%)
- Youth (3.5%)
- Ministries (3.5%)
Should you tithe on retirement income?
Tithing is about much more than following or not following a Biblical rule. Tithing is debated within the Christian church, but giving is not. Many people get caught up in the exact percentages of what you should be giving in retirement, but the focus should instead be on how we can connect with God and how God can use our gifts for good.
If you’re convicted to crunch all the numbers and find the exact amount to give because you enjoy it, then feel free (see how here). But if this stresses you out and causes you to fear being in error, then I don’t believe it is healthy. This is why there are two simpler options for giving in retirement.
- The first option is to give a set monthly percentage (10 percent, for example) of all the money that enters your bank account. This disregards whether that money was already tithed or not, and focuses instead on giving because you enjoy giving, and watching the rewards of those gifts.
- The second option is to determine a set figure to give each month (regardless of how much money comes in to your account), and give that. For many people, the amount of money they are receiving each month during retirement is fairly stable. This means what you give as tithe can remain stable as well. For example, if you’d like to give 10 percent then you could look over your statements for the past six months and average the income, then calculate 10 percent and use that as your set amount to give.
- Figures are from Mid-America Union 2016 financial reports and Kansas-Nebraska Conference Communique (April 2017).