Why Give to the Church?
For some, to give to the church is an act of worship. Some see it as tradition or a suggestion. Still others view it as an obligation.
If you’re wondering whether you should give to the church, or why others do, consider these reasons believers give:
The Basis of Giving to the Church
We see the origin of giving gifts to God in Genesis, when Cain and Abel made sacrifices, long before there was a church. God instituted worship, which they understood to include sacrificial offerings.
As God formalized worship, he required a tithe, or a tenth, of everything, including crops, animals and financial gain. (Leviticus 27:30) These gifts financed the tabernacle and temple, and supported the priests, who helping followers to connect with God.
It was not that He needed any type of tangible gift. But, rather, giving oriented worshippers to put him first and to invest in his work with both their skills and their resources. God promised that putting him first would result in a blessed life. (Malachi 3:10).
Giving to the Church, Then and Now
After Jesus established the church, giving continued to be a practice for believers. New Testament scriptures show that the primary purpose of taking up a collection was to help those in need (1 Cor. 16:1-3).
The early church met in homes or caves, so there were no “operational” expenses to cover, though 1 Tim. 5:18 does show that it is acceptable to pay those who minister for the sake of the church.
Tithing (giving 10%) isn’t mentioned in scriptures relating to the church. Instead, giving became characterized as a heart issue (2 Cor. 9:7). Jesus lauded the smallest sacrificial gift (Luke 21:1-4). While tithing is certainly a good starting point for generosity, having no mandatory amount encourages extravagant giving. Some churches suggest giving 10% to the church’s general fund for facilities, staff, missions and benevolence, then allocating additional offerings as desired.
But if you read scriptures on giving, you may notice that many of them don’t necessarily point to the church as the recipient of believers’ generosity.
So Why Give to the Church Today?
Many believers give generously in the face of need, and this is pleasing to God. He considers it a gift to Him! (Proverbs 19:17)
But many of these same believers balk at giving consistently to the church. In fact, only 5% of believers regularly return a tenth of their income to God. (Source) Abuses and extravagances have soured people on helping to maintain an “institution.” Debt cripples generosity. And, frankly, even for those who attend church, giving to the church is just not a priority.
But the discipline of consistent giving is part of the Christian’s journey to maturity and a blessed life. Today the church includes facilities and staff to promote spiritual growth and healing to members and the community. Members expect programs for guidance in marriage, finances, children, and addictions, as well as outreach and focus on community needs. When they are in need of comfort, encouragement and guidance, the church is there.
Why do believers expect these resources to be available without participating in the funding of them?
Giving to the church encompasses several objectives, including:
- Helping others. “But if someone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but refuses to help, how can the love of God dwell in a person like that?” (1 John 3:17)
- Expressing gratitude for what God has given to us.
- Learning to trust God with our finances.
- Avoiding the pitfalls of money. An improper focus on money can consume and destroy us, and keep us from a truly blessed life:
“The love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Tim. 6:10)
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- Experiencing the blessings of a life of generosity. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)
- Banding together with other believers to grow the kingdom of God (in size and strength).
- Increasing our sense of “ownership” in the church, which keeps us from being sideline members.