Sunday, 22 July 2012

Generosity, Giving and Other Uncomfortable Stuff

In my last post I mentioned that we'd been given granny smith apples at church last week.  This week we were given 10 smarties each (like M&M's).  If I were to stop there you'd be wondering what kind of church it is that we go to!!  We've been discussing stewardship under the sub-heading of "each of us needs all of us".  When we first came to the church the sub-heading was approached in relation to the church's community welfare ministries.  Now, it's to do with money....and time and assets and other resources. 

The apples were a tangible example of the fact that we don't know how many apples will grow out of an apple seed.  Likewise, we don't know how far our generosity will spread into the future.  It is our responsibility to simply be generous and trust God to bless our efforts.

This week we dealt with the uncomfortable topic around tithing.  I find this one difficult - I know what the church teaches around the idea of tithing.  I don't disagree with it. I struggle with what the outcome of tithing would mean in my circumstance, and trying to figure out what my response needs to be.  I've lots of questions that require some more thought, so I'll work through that throughout this week.  The smarties were given to us - 10 in a little zip lock bag. We were then each required to give one of our 10 back.  A practical example of tithing.  I'm told the senior pastor later dipped his hand into the 'tithed' smarties and enjoyed some.  And I figured that was probably scriptural.  After all, the Levites were provided for through the tithes of the Israelites in the book of Numbers.  I gave my smarties to Miss Mischief.  She had surely earned them after a morning out in Kids Church!

I'd love to know your thoughts.


Frugal Queen said...

I would want the church accounts to be published in every detail before I gave them any money let alone a tithe. Too many churches have dark corners and I believe in unpaid ministry where everyone earns their own living.

Angela said...

I am a nonconformist, in every sense - but in our system, our church is independently financed [no money from Rome, Canterbury, the Lottery or Raffles], and the accounts are published in minutest detail annually. The pastor is paid a 'stipend' - which is considered not to be wages, but rather ensures he is free to serve God in the church and community without having to worry about supporting his family - but ALL of us in the fellowship are involved in service one way or another.

I also believe in considered, responsible, prayerful giving

I love the story of the man who woke up in the night in a panic. "Whats the matter?" asked his wife. He said "I dreamt God took the money I put in the offering plate, multiplied it by 10, and said 'live on that for a week'"

What I dont believe in is Legalism, Churches who require a given amount from members, and judgemental attitudes.

The Lord loves a CHEERFUL giver

blessings xx

Squiggly Rainbow said...

I like what Angela wrote. We are not bound by my understanding of the law to tithe. With the Spirit leading us, no one should be without or in need. xx

Jodie said...
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Jodie said...

Tithing to me has been a huge journey of faith. I have questioned the motives of pastors and leaders when teaching tithing, especially when they distort scripture and attempt to convince us that tithing is a requirement of a New Testament Christian. This involved mistrust of others, sometimes even justifiably! I then moved into tithing legalistically and out of fear that God wouldn't bless me unless I tithed to the letter. Here I was mistrusting God and His motives! Now finally I have an understanding of the grace involved in giving (and in everything we do really!). I have also come to a healthy realisation that a church like ours needs to be resourced and it is our responsibility as those that attend there regularly and who earn an income outside the ministry. I now tithe by choice because I am invested in my church and what it is doing in our lives, our children's lives, our friends' lives, the community around us and the world.
Tithing to me is a biblical pattern that is a good place to start if I desire to be a regular contributor to my church. It's not a law, not required, given freely and happily. It's all about trust. Trusting the church and its people, but above all trusting God. If you tithe out of a conviction in your own heart, it will bring blessing I'm convinced - even if the church misused the money! If you're not convinced, just remain open and honest with God. As Rohan said, if you're talked into it (by people) you can be talked out of it - I've had both those experiences in my 30 years or so of Christianity! Just REST in the Lord. He is more than able to lead you where He wants your particular family to be in this regard and He is full of grace and understanding. Maybe He will challenge you to go deeper into this area or maybe He will just say relax, it's all good!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I attend a university chapel, and often times our offerings go to local charities and church mission programs. Which is to say, the church is not dependent on our tithes (though I'm sure they're part of the church budget). I would love to say we give 10% of our annual income to church and needy causes, but that would be far from the truth. Still, we do what we can, and my hope is that one day we'll be able to do much, much more. I suppose it shows a lack of trust that we don't give our full tithe now, and that's something I struggle with.


Tracy said...

Thank you - each of you - for sharing your insightful thoughts.