Here is the deal.
Pastors have to tithe…they just do. I know many pastors don’t tithe 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 celebrated our 36th Wedding Anniversary this summer and it brought 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.” We wrote a check for six bucks.
It was wonderful advice.
Here are ten reasons pastors HAVE to tithe:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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…
- Even if no one knows you don’t tithe, you do and God does.
- Your church leaders (and their spouses and their friends and possibly their Facebook friends) know whether or not their pastor tithes. They count the money. They know. They talk. Don’t fool yourself on this one.
- 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.
- A tithing pastor has the moral authority to lead in the area of discipleship in powerful ways.
- 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.”
- God promises to bless the gift and the giver. As we have been faithful to give, God has always given us more to give and as we have given, God has always brought in givers to Christ Church to stand beside us. I am not seeing a down side here.
I still write tithe checks to Christ Church each payday. I suppose I could give on line, through a kiosk or automatically but I really like the feeling I have just writing that old fashioned check. It reminds me of how much God has blessed us since we wrote that first six dollar check thirty-six years ago.
Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist in the United Methodist Church, is the Senior Pastor at Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.