If you have been in the church for a good amount of time you have probably heard of someone who has decided to “withhold their tithe’. This is usually due to some sort of dispute with the leadership of the church they attend. This is used as a means to try and force the leadership to do something this particular congregant or group of congregants thinks the church should be doing or to punish the leadership for not bowing to their whims.
While some who have a spouse in church leadership may direct a post like this specifically at those who are withholding their tithe I think something also needs to be said to those in church leadership about when this happens to them. So I will address both.
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Church Leaders and Money
First I want to address church leadership. I have seen churches ruined because of this situation and I do not place the blame for this on the people withholding their tithes. I fully place the blame of these situations firmly on the leadership of the church. There are two areas where church leadership can be at fault on this.
There are two ways church leaders can be at fault in this area. The first area is handling the finances either morally or immorally. The second is in the area of ministry.
First, let’s deal with the handling of money. You need to be above reproach in this area. The finances of the church need to be easily accessible to anyone in the church. The last two churches I have been a member of have the congregation approve the budget. Our current church even has quarterly reports presented at congregational meetings. I don’t think that is essential but it may help build trust if it has been lost.
Unfortunately, not all church staff handle money in a moral way. So if this is you stop immediately. Go to your elders, deacons or whatever governing body is at your church and confess. This confession should include a resignation as well and a willingness to face any consequences of your actions including legal repercussions. This should also be combined with seeking forgiveness as this is not just a personal sin but is a violation of the entire church.
Second, we will deal with matters of ministry. This is where most church leadership needs to focus. A large majority of churches don’t have issues with financial crime and while there are many churches that should be more forthcoming with their finances I would guess most churches fall into this category. There are two things that need to be done in this area.
First, have faith. If you as the leadership of the church believe that what you are doing or where you are leading the church are the things God wants done then do not allow some else’s whims to derail you. I have seen churches dwindle because the leadership decided that rather than trust God to provide for his church they were going to rely on those who disagree with them and bend to the will of man.
As mentioned above everything belongs to God. If someone is deciding to hoard God’s resources do not worry about that. God can provide and in my experience God does provide. However, if you forget that and begin relying on those who are not all powerful you will eventually stop actually doing the work of God. Eventually you just become a country club for those who want to appear religious but don’t want anything that makes them uncomfortable.
The second thing I think that church leadership needs to do in these situations is to dialogue with those who chose to withhold their tithe. While this may seem antithetical and like you are allowing them to have power it is about caring for the body. Allowing them the chance to speak their peace and you to explain the church’s position opens the opportunity for reconciliation.
While it should be your hope that this leads to reconciliation it must be remembered that not everything can be resolved; some people are just going to be dead set on getting their ways. Which leads to my last point.
Sometimes you need to be willing to let people leave. If your church is not going to be the place they want to be there is no shame in letting them know that things just aren’t going to be run or done the way they want them. While you want to be welcoming to all that doesn’t mean you need to have a ministry for everyone.
Not every church needs to or is suited to have a ministry to bikers or the newest flashiest equipment for a worship service. If a ministry or a style is a deal breaker for a congregant than let them know that you will probably never do that.
So you want to withhold your tithe
Now let’s talk about those withholding their tithe. I get that you have your reasons for withholding your tithe and not giving to your church. It may seem like the best option because there aren’t many other ways for a person to express their displeasure with their church without being publically critical. Since you probably love your church and don’t want to bring shame on them I get it.
However just because I understand where you are coming from doesn’t mean I am going to take it easy on you. If you are doing this in your church, grow up. There may be reasons to hold the leadership of your church accountable. However, aside from cases where financial crimes are occuring or the leadership has become heretics withholding your tithe is not one of them. In fact if the two exceptions listed above are occurring you may just want to leave the church and if you know of illegal activity going on report it to the proper authorities.
So why shouldn’t you withhold your tithe from a church simply because they aren’t doing things the way you want them to? Your money is not yours. As a Christian you should believe that everything is God’s by giving to the church you are furthering the kingdom of God. By withholding your tithe you are saying your preferences are more important than the work of the kingdom.
Some may argue well what if I am giving to a parachurch organization? While I think it is important to give to these organizations my first response would be to ask if they actually are giving the money they are withholding from the church to a different organization? In my experience many who offer this response are not in fact giving to a parachurch organization.
Another problem with you withholding your tithe is that you are hurting the community you have claimed as your own. While many churches have drastically changed the way they help those in need who are outside the congregation most churches will still offer financial help to those in the church who need it.
Whether it be due to falling on hard times or a life threatening medical condition most churches will help these people with their financial needs. Often this help is done without informing the majority of the congregation because the person dealing with the issue does not want the attention. So if the church or those needing help don’t come before the congregation then you cannot give to that person to help them.
If you find yourself in one of these places I pray you don’t shut yourself off to the other side. Try to understand what the other side sees and what their motives are. This goes for both sides. If you are withholding your tithe talk with your leadership they probably have a good reason for doing the things they are doing. If you are in leadership, if someone is withholding their tithe, find out why and be willing to answer their questions it may not always work but it may help the situation from becoming toxic for the church.
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Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope that you enjoyed it and that it helped you better understand how to use your tithe in a healthy way. If you found this post helpful would you share it with a friend or on social media? That way more people can benefit from it as you have.
- Tithing Isn’t A Weapon (a warning for churches and members) - October 27, 2021