Growing up in church, the concept of tithing was drilled into my little Bryl-creem’d head.
We tithe because we are told to.
We tithe in response to Jesus dying for us.
We tithe because the church will close if we don’t.
I’m not sure if that is what was taught, but it is what I walked away with.
When we realized church should be more than a holy huddle, however, we stopped talking about tithing. The new conventional wisdom said that outsiders thought all the church cared about was their cash, so the best way to get them to listen to the Gospel was to stop talking about money. We still believed that true believers should tithe, but we eased them into it.
The Prosperity Gospel has driven us further underground.
We are repulsed by the idea that we should give because it’s the best investment scheme on the planet. Stories of television preachers with airplanes and multiple mansions reinforce our resolve to keep the tithe on the down low. Giving is still a good idea, but only if you’re really, really sure you want to.
The last thing we ever want to do is give the impression you are being coerced.
I wonder if it’s time to drop talking about tithe altogether?
Not because it’s not biblical or because it’s offensive. My problem with the way we’ve talked about tithing is it completely misses the point.
Giving because I’m told to or because I’m grateful or because the church needs it aren’t bad things, they’re just secondary.
Really, really secondary.
Giving is about generosity.