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Why Pastors HAVE to tithe…HAVE to

May 14, 2013

Here is the deal.  Pastors have to tithe…they have to.  I know many pastors don’t but you simply have to tithe if you are going to lead a church.  And you need to tithe to your current church.  The one whose name is on your pay check.  Give your offerings anywhere you want but tithe to your church.

Melissa and I will celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary next week and it brings to mind a story from our first week as a married couple.  I was finishing up college and Melissa was babysitting making an astounding $60 per week.  That was our income, $240 per month.  When it was time to write the bills, we discussed how much to give.  Melissa said, “Let’s give 10%, let’s tithe and believe God will one day entrust us with much more to give.”  It was wonderful advice.

Here are ten reasons pastors HAVE to tithe:

  1. Tithing to your current church is a powerful expression of your “buy-in” to your current context.  Church leaders need to know their pastor is “in this thing.”  Few things are more powerful than putting your money where your mouth is…
  2. Saying yes to God’s call to Ordained Ministry is not a discipleship exemption.  People in all careers had to sacrifice to get where they are, start off making a pittance and have student loans just like pastors do.  They need to tithe as well.
  3. A non-tithing pastor can never preach the fullness of Christian discipleship (with any authority anyway).  Consultants agree that a church can’t properly address God’s resources without a pastor leading from the pulpit and pen.  I truly think many pastors don’t preach it because they don’t live it.  Failing to proclaim the whole Gospel because you aren’t willing to tithe is NOT a virtue.  Discipleship IS a virtue.  Let’s not fool ourselves here.
  4. Your church will NEVER reach its potential without a critical mass of tithers.  The primary leader HAS to be one of them.  I just don’t know of any exceptions to this…
  5. Even if no one knows you don’t tithe, you do and God does.
  6. Your church leaders (and their spouses and their friends and possibly their Facebook friends) know whether or not their pastor tithes.  Don’t fool yourself on this one.
  7. The Old Testament teaches the tithe and the New Testament only adds that we be in a good mood about it on one hand and don’t employ the practice to excuse ourselves from Christian character and compassion on the other.  The tithe is still in play.
  8. A tithing pastor has the moral authority to lead in the area of discipleship in powerful ways.
  9. How can we expect God to bless our churches and ministries if we choose not to be generous givers?  Give God something to bless.  I know of very few pastors who have been blessed with growing and significant ministries who do not tithe (actually I don’t know of any but I was trying to be nice).  And they started tithing long before they became “successful.”
  10. God promises to bless the tithe and the tither.  As we have been faithful to give, God has always given us more to give and as I have given, God has always brought in givers beside me.  I am not seeing a down side here.

I am a taking a mini-sabbatical right now before beginning my seventeenth year at Christ Church.  In that time our average offerings have gone from about $3,500 per weekend to about $55,000.  I ran my offering envelope by the office this afternoon.  I guess it got me thinking…

Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist in the United Methodist Church is the Senior Pastor at Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

Shane Head 2013

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16 Comments
  1. kip permalink

    Besides, it’s tax-deductable.

  2. Our lives have been so blessed since Neil & I began tithing. You cannot out give God! And a big part of our decision was your example and teachings about discipleship that we eventually internalized. Thank you!

  3. A powerful, first-hand GodStory and witness to God rewarding faithfulness.

  4. Better to err on the side of blessings and please God.
    I went to a church and always tithed and gave to missions and other programs. But sometimes I would put a dollar or two in for offering. Others did it so I thought nothing of it. I started attending the Methodist Church eight months ago. When the offering is received the Pastor holds up the offering unto The Lord as the church sings Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I felt ashamed. Did I really want offer God a dollar? I decided to support the needs as presented each month with an offering I would not be ashamed of.

  5. Rev. James S. Brewer permalink

    I used to tithe — but that proved to be only the beginning. The tithe goes to the general fund of the church, and then other offerings to for other things (special offerings, building fund, other groups, etc.)

  6. Janet Baechle permalink

    I started tithing when a minister once told the congregation. “You can’t out give God”. I thought, “Bet I can.” I can’t, the blessings keep coming. Cool!

  7. Janet Baechle permalink

    I started tithing when a minister once told the congregation. “You can’t out give God”. I thought, “Bet I can.” I can’t, the blessings keep coming. Cool!

  8. Stephen Mott permalink

    And tithing should be the minimum.

  9. I could have written this very article until about a year ago. I would have agreed with every word. I have my own God Moments to testify to. But then life happened. Those of you (Shane) included who think you can just tithe always because you want to, and somehow your obligations will never make that impossible may be in for a rude awakening one day. I will not trot out my personal financial problems. We contributed to some of them ourselves. I remember that Jesus chastised the Jewish religious leaders for failing to adequately care for aging parents and using the excuse that the money that might have helped them was dedicated to God. Well some of us have extended family for which we are their entire support. I might go without a meal or two, but my family members shouldn’t have to! We all know that Illinois is a dead-beat state and the federal government is threatening to cut aid. All that sounds OK- unless it is your loved one, your neighbor, your friend whose support is reduced. While I wholeheartedly believe in tithing- I will not neglect extended family who have no other income- or who are just now finding part-time work @$8.25 per hour. So don’t try to guilt trip any of us Shane. Being a Pastor and faithful Christian does not make us immune to the effects of unemployment, no health insurance, expensive auto repairs etc. While tithing certainly is where we would hope to begin in our stewardship may God’s grace abound to those who would be totally overwhelmed by a demand to tithe during certain difficult times. Oh and for the record- Although we do generally give/tithe to the congregations that we serve, there’s a part of me which feels disingenuous when we do. It’s actually both selfish and manipulative. I give to the congregation knowing either A. that if I don’t there won’t be enough money for my next pay-check or B. that I’ll just get it back in my next pay-check. It’s sort of recycling -I don’t really give it cause I get it back but then again- I don’t really ever get it back because I have to give it again! I know a couple of clergy who will not give to the budget of the congregations they serve for that very reason. And it takes away an opportunity for the congregation to have real responsibility for the Pastor’s salary. Now I realize that in congregations with larger budgets- this dynamic is not obvious. But many, many smaller congregations and their Pastors can see themselves in this recycling program if they are honest with themselves. Bottom line Please don’t be so self-righteous as to proclaim Pastors HAVE to tithe if there is no grace for when life happens.

  10. Cal Brannon permalink

    Shane, an outstanding word. Thanks.

  11. Jeffrey D. sterling permalink

    Shane is absolutely, positively, unarguably right. There is no good rebuttal to his “faith logic,” in my opinion. Show me a pastor who does not tithe to the church or charge she or he is leading, and I’ll show you one who is struggling in ministry, and probably in her or his personal finances as well.

    • Jeff neither you nor Shane take into account the circumstances even faithful Christians face during difficult economic times. Jesus chastised the Jewish leaders for failing to provide for the needs of elderly parents using the excuse that whatever help they may have received had been dedicated to God. Given the high unemployment rates some Pastors find themselves the sole support for multiple households. While we may firmly believe in tithing; economic circumstances may mean that there are periods of time when tithing is not possible. Please don’t be self-righteous and judgmental towards all clergy who may not be able to tithe for a certain time period.

  12. Juan Guerrero permalink

    THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE. BLESSINGS

  13. Jeff Bennett permalink

    My parents taught me to tithe as a child and I’ve never regretted the practice. Nor have I regretted any of the other dollars I’ve felt God calling me to give. My wife and I aren’t sure how college for our three children will be paid for but as faithful givers it is much easier for us to trust God to provide for our family’s needs. We’re teaching our kids to tithe and I’m encouraging and equipping the church I serve to tithe too. (I have a lot of work to do. Our family income is much less than the median income of the affluent community we serve yet we out-give way too many others in the church.)

  14. John Hunt permalink

    Luke 16:11 “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
    A pastor or elder or leader of anything in church should have the gift of generosity and be giving where possible except where circumstances create a struggle to make ends meet. These circumstances can come from many of life’s challenges.
    When these problems arise I believe 1 Timothy 5:8 kicks in “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

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