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Tithes and Offerings

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By Harry L. Herman

God has from the beginning provided a means of financing his program through voluntary giving (offerings) and assessments called “Tithes”. Contrary to the opinion of many, Tithes did not begin with the “Law”, but was practiced by Abraham 430 years before the law (Gen.14:18-20) and continued on through Jacob (Gen.28:20-22) and finally though Levi (law) and the Levitical Priesthood. God employs the principle of “Offerings” when instructing Moses how to get the materials to build the tabernacle (Exod. 25:1-8) and later Solomon’s Temple. The subject of “Tithes & Offerings” is widely practiced but often misunderstood as to its purpose and applications according to the scriptures. This portion of our Study Guide divides the subject matter of Tithes & Offerings into two distinct sections. The first section will deal with “TIMES” covering the definition and purpose according to the scriptures. The second section will cover “OFFERINGS” and how they are used.

It is obvious that one can not pay tithes or give offerings unless there is some manner of “INCOME” provided for the individual. This income may be money or wages, interest from investments, Social Security and welfare checks, bonuses, produce from the fields (farming), live stock (cattle , sheep etc.) or anything that represents an increase to the individual. In biblical times tithes consisted of things harvested, increases in the flocks and herds and money from the sale of their produce as well as wages. Today, tithes and offerings are almost always paid in the currency of the time and it is the exception to the rule to use commodities as the medium of exchange. As we begin the first thing that must be established is, it is God who makes it possible for us to get wealth and is responsible for any increase one may enjoy. All that we possess in reality belongs to God and He expects us to be faithful stewards over His things. “And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shaft remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.” Deut. 8:17-18 Because of Him one has the strength, health and opportunity to get and hold a job. It is because of Him the fields and trees provide a harvest and live stock reproduces to provide for us our needs.

In the final analysis, God owns everything and all we are able to enjoy is on “loan from Him” who provides for our daily needs. “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Psa. 24:1 “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof ” Psa. 50:10-12 And finally, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. ” 1 Tim.6:17-19 As these scriptures teach us, God is the owner, controller and generator of all that exists. These things are given to man for him to enjoy, but at the same time man has the obligation and responsibility to act as a good steward over God’s abundant blessings. We are admonished not to put our trust in corruptible material things, for God can reclaim them as easy as He can provide them. He expects us to honor and give Him glory for the blessings we receive and one way to do this is to honor Him with our tithes and offerings.

TITHES

Part One

“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.” Mal. 3:711

Perhaps the most familiar scripture on the subject of Tithes is, Mal 3:7-11. Unfortunately for some, this is the only scripture they know, but the purpose and procedure of dealing with tithes and offerings is unknown to them.

First to be noticed is vs 7: God’s indictment is “you have gone away from mine ordinances and not kept them. Will a man rob God? How? In tithes AND offerings.” (Note the distinction between tithes AND offerings. The robbery involved both). They once did tithe, but now they have slacked off and are no longer fulfilling their obligation to God. He calls them “robbers”. Does one dare Rob God? What is the nature of this robbery? They did not pay their tenth or give offerings and as a result, the House of God went lacking and the priests were forced into the fields to work.

The results, “you are cursed with a curse. (Vs 10), bring ALL the tithes into the STOREHOUSE (church) that there may be meat in my house — if you will, I will pour out a blessing more than you can contain”. Paying tithes and giving offerings brings a blessing, a blessing of the magnitude that there is not enough room to receive it, on the other hand, failing to pay tithes bring on the individual a “curse”, God’s disfavor in all their activities.

Please note that Tithes are a DEBT one OWES to God. It is a fixed percentage of one’s total increase. On the other hand, an Offering is the amount the individual chooses to give as a voluntary gift. One does not GIVE their tithes. Do you “give” the bank your mortgage loan payment or do you PAY your loan to the bank. This mortgage money does not belong to the individual borrower, it is a loan and a debt. The mortgagee is expected to return that money with interest by PAYING on their debt at an agreed upon rate. SINCE

TITHES ARE A DEBT, WE PAY TITHES, BUT WE GIVE OFFERINGS. When one fails to pay tithes they are stealing, stealing from God. The nine tenths God allows us to keep coupled with his blessings is far better that keeping it all for yourself.

The eighth commandment reads, “Thou shalt not steal”. Since the tithe belongs to God, doesn’t this commandment also apply to the things belonging to Him? Is robbing God any less a sin because it is God’s stuff? NO! It is a dangerous thing to rob God.

The first fruits belong to God and when we receive our increase, our obligation is to give God that which belongs to Him FIRST. First fruits is the gross amount of the paycheck, it is the first thing paid from the paycheck before the house note, car payment, grocery bill and credit card etc. The IRS does not trust us to pay our taxes so they take their portion first to make sure they get it. Most never see the amount of deduction taken from their check. It is just a number. However, God is entitled to the first payment before anything else is paid and trusts the individual to pay on time. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Prov. 3:9-10

It takes faith to give God the “tenth” with a willing heart.

God set the principle of tithes in the garden when He reserved a portion for Himself and not for Adam or Eve; the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”. They were not to eat of this tree on penalty of death. It was reserved for God and God alone. As a result of partaking of this tree man received a death sentence and a curse was placed on the earth. Compare this principle with Mal. 3:9 where a curse is pronounced for robbing God of the tithes. (Refer to the booklet “Christian Stewardship” by Bishop G.T. Haywood, pages 6 & 7).

The purpose of tithes was to insure “Meat in mine house” (Ma13:10). This is in reference to the Word & Truth dispensed by the ministry. This was God’s financial way of compensating the Levitical Priests and the ministry of today for their services for Him. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord bath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” Matt.24:45 The reference here is the responsibility of the ministry to feed the flock of God with the Word.

While details of tithing are outlined in the Old Testament, not too much is stated in the New Testament. However, there are enough obvious references made in the New Testament to give authority for the ministry to collect the tithe from the children of God. Consider too the Apostles, who were Jews, and well acquainted with the Old Testament system of tithing. They saw no problem in applying the same system in the church.

Matt.23:23 Jesus justifies paying tithes, accusing the Pharisees and hypocrites, who paid tithes of aromatic spices and herbs, of having left off the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. These (Tithing) they were to do AND NOT LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.

Note the following scriptures also:

Gal. 3:29 “If ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed”.
John 8:39 If we are Abraham’s children (seed) then we are to do the works of Abraham, that is, pay tithes as Abraham did.
Gen. 14:18-20 Abraham gave tithes of ALL to Melchizedek. (God Himself)
Gen. 28:20-22 Jacob vowed a vow which included giving a “tenth” unto God.

The definition of tithes is the “tenth” or one tenth of ones total increase. Increase is defined as “the gross amount that is added to one’s possessions”. This is not limited to just gross wages, but any other increase that is added to your total resources, taxable or not.

“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.” Lev. 27:30-32 Since the “tenth” belongs to God, He can dispose of it as He wishes. The “tenth” was given to the children of Levi for their service of the tabernacle. When one pays their tithes the money is no longer theirs and they have no say so as to how it is to be used. It now belongs to God for Him to use and disburse.

“And the LORD spoke unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Num. 18:20-21 (Note: if something is mine, then I have the right to dispose of it as I see fit. Since the tenth or tithes belong to God, He has the right to dispose of it as He see fit so He in turn gives it to the ministry as their pay for service.)

Ezek. 18:25 “—Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?” God’s system of tithing is equally applied to the rich and poor alike. It is equal sacrifice.

The “Law” provided a “System” for paying tithes and not the authority for them.

John 7:22 “Moses gave you circumcision; (not because it was of Moses, but of the fathers). Both circumcision AND tithing came from Abraham. Rom. 8:3-4 The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in US, that is paying tithes. Num.18:26 Note: The Levites were to TAKE tithes of the children of Israel.

Note the following scripture and the tenses in the statement.

“And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him’. Heb. 7:5-10

“And verily they that ARE (present tense) the “SONS OF LEVT’ (the ministry Mal. 3:10) who RECEIVE (present tense) the office of the priesthood, HAVE (present tense) a COMMANDMENT TO TAKE TITHES of the people according to the law (system)”. Note the use of the present tense in the above verse.

Please note four things:

1. The ministry is now in the place of the Priesthood, who “are the sons of Levi”.
2. The ministry is now instructed to “take tithes of the People”;
3. Tithes are to be taken “according to the law”. (System)
4. The ministry who takes tithes also PAYS tithes.

“And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.” Neh. 10:38 Tithes are brought to the church and not sent to the foreign field, sent to support a TV broadcast, given to the poor, or distributed as the individual chooses. The church is the “storehouse” or “treasure house” and it is the responsibility of the pastor to disburse for the use of the ministry as he is directed of God.

Num.18:26-31 The Levites were to offer an “heave offering” consisting of a tenth part of the tithe. This tithe of the tithe was to be given to Aaron and included gifts they received. Verse 24 –

The tithe of the people was given to the Levites as their inheritance. They were to tithe of this tithe as it was their income, the equivalent to the people’s increase.

To deny or restrict the ministry of their income is wrong. Jealousy, envy, resentment are often the root causes behind such restrictions. “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 1 Cor. 9:13-14 If paying tithes and giving offerings was not required in the New Testament Church, where did the material substance (money) come from, that provided a living for the preachers of the gospel, if tithing was not practiced and a storehouse established to receive their contributions? The ministry is to live of the things of the temple (church) and they that are ordained to preach the gospel should live of the gospel indicating some form of systematized income. (The tithing system). See also Gal. 6:6 and Neh.13:10-12.

These principles were in force BEFORE the law, DURING the law and AFTER the law. Under the law the use of tithes was for those who did the service (Levites and Priests) of the tabernacle/temple, however the use of the tithe now is for the ministry of the church, that there may be “meat” in my house.

The Law of Tithes

Consider the following scriptures on the “Law of Tithes”.

Lev. 27:30 -32 “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.” This passage states ALL the tithe belongs to the Lord. We pay our tithe to God, not the pastor. The pastor gets the use of it but it is God’s payment for his service.

The tithe is to be paid at the place God chooses (storehouse – church) and not where one may choose on their own. “But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.” Deut. 12:5-8 Today, as stated previously, this place is the local church where the individual has placed their membership. See also Deut. 12:5-8, 10-14

Num. 18:21-31 “And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’s heave offering to Aaron the priest Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof even the hallowed part thereof out of it Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. In these verses God gives the “tenth” to the Levites (ministry) and gives instructions how it is to be used and the freedom of its use. This is their pay-check for the service in the tabernacle. Note also Num. 18:26-31

“Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” 1 Cor. 9:8-11

If we sow spiritual things, it is not unreasonable to reap carnal things. We are not to muzzle the mouth of the Ox that treadeth out the corn. The pastor and the ministry is not to be denied that which is their right to have. God will take good care of those who serve at His pleasure. Remember this one thing, God is the pastor’s paymaster and He will not defraud anyone who has been commissioned by Him to do service for the people of God. Even if there is a shortage of tithes because the people fail to pay, God is still obligated to take care of Iris own “employees”. There is however, one restriction. When God promises to take care of His servants, He does not intend for them to be extravagant or wasteful of the blessings the servant receives. The pastor must always remember that he is the steward of God’s substance and is not to become greedy for filthy lucre or to strive to follow the trends and fashions of the world.

“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.” Deut. 14:22-23 To truly pay one’s tithes is not to hold back but to consider all their increase, in what ever form, when paying tithes. (Tithes are paid on the gross earnings and any other form of increase).

“Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me.” Exod. 22:29-30. One of the problems in paying tithes is, to put it off. God requires one to pay on time. To delay is to add a double burden the next time and often one becomes so far behind that they fail to pay at all. It is far better to pay one’s tithes as the income comes to them without delay. There have been cases where one has fallen so far behind in paying their tithes and allowed the devil to discourage them into thinking there was no use to continue serving God, they have backsliden from the church. Satan works on a guilty conscience and will use any and every ploy he can to recapture those who have once been delivered from his hand.

Neh. 13:5, 10-12 The Levites had to return to the fields because the people failed to pay their tithes. This is the same as forcing the pastor to return to his secular job in order to support his family because the church members fail to tithe as they should. Many disgruntled church members have tried to use this tactic, failing to pay their tithes, in an effort to force a pastor to leave the church so they could get one to their own liking. If the pastor is really God’s person, he will stick it out and God will prove deliverance.

2 Chron. 31:4. 10 The Ministry is “encouraged” because the people paid their tithes.
Ezek. 44:30 By paying tithes, the ministry will “cause” a blessing to rest on your house.
Neh.12:44 When the Levites and Priests received their tithes, the people rejoiced for them.
1 Thes. 5:12-13 We are to “esteem” the ministry highly.

When the total tithe had been given, they were to testify, that is to acknowledge, that all had been paid. In other words, they had to give a record of the tithe paid. Today this is done through our method of tithes envelopes. It is a necessity in today’s time to keep accurate records of membership donations for tax purposes and also to justify church income and expenditures in the event of potential government inspection of church finances. Deut. 26:12-14

2 Chron. 24:4-6 It is the responsibility of the ministry to teach the people to tithe and if the ministry fails, they will be called into “question” why they did not.

Neh. 10:32-39 ; Num 18:26 The ministry is to pay tithes as do other people. Their tithe is given to the church treasury as part of their obligation for the “service of the sanctuary”. As Levi received tithes he also paid tithes. Vs. 32 The Levites were required to “charge themselves” to give a certain amount. This is the modern day authority for pledging to help carry on the burden of the needs of the church.

Aaron was given the responsibility of managing the money that came to the temple by reason of the “anointing” that rested on him. Here again the managing of church finances is the responsibility of the pastor by reason of the “anointing” invested in him or her.

They may delegate the work to others, but it is their responsibility to oversee the affairs of the church. “And the LORD spoke unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.” Num. 1 8 :8

Pastors, beware that you are not guilty of being greedy of “filthy lucre” and using all the tithes for yourself. They are for the MINISTRY, the assisting ministry in the local church and for the ministry in smaller churches where they are having a struggle. While it is true that smaller churches must use the majority of the tithe to support the pastor, that pastor must learn too, to live within his or her means and not try to compete with the larger churches with luxury cars, big homes and “things”. Remember too, the tithe of the tithe belongs to the church treasury.

The above article, “Tithes and Offerings” is written by Harry L. Herman. The article was excerpted from a portion of Herman’s book A Study Guide for Pastors, Ministers, and Deacons on Church Government.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Principles Of Christian Giving

BY: WALTER CLIPPINGER

I. God owns everything (Duet.10:14; Ex.19:5; 9:29; Ps.24:1; Ps.50:10-12).

II. We cannot serve God and mammon [money, property, possessions: whatever the world counts as gain- lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and the pride of life] (Mt.6:19-24).

III. Giving increases our dedication to God (Mt.6:21).

IV. God is well pleased when we give (Heb.13:16).

V. We must give to those who are in need (Pr.19:17; Acts 20:35; Gal.2:10; 2Cor.8:14).

VI. Through giving we learn to fear God (Duet.14:22,23).

VII. Giving must be in proportion to our income and other blessings we have received from God (1Cor.16:2; 2Cor.8:3,12).

VIII. Giving must be voluntary and generous (Ex.25:1-2; Lev.19:5; 2Chr.24:8-11; Phlm.14; 2Cor.8:1-5, 8-12), in the same spirit that Jesus Christ gave Himself for us (2Cor.8:9).

IX. More important to God than the monetary value of the gift is the sacrifice involved (Lk.21:1-4).

X. Giving must be done cheerfully (2Cor.9:7; Ex.25:2; 35:21-39; 2Chr.24:10).

XI. Everyone must make an offering (Ex.23:15), whether large or small, because in some way God has blessed us (Duet.16:17).

XII. Giving must be done quietly without fanfare (Rom.12:8).
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XIII. Giving is to be done with regularity at the church (1Cor.16:1).

XIV. Giving is a grace that we are to “abound in” (2Cor.8:7-15).

XV. Giving is evidence of abiding in God’s love (1Jn.3:17).

 

TITHING

I. Everything we have is from God (Job 1:21; Jn.3:27; 1Cor.4:7). Tithing is only returning to God a portion of what He has already given us.

II. “Tithe” literally means a tenth part. a tithe is ten percent of all that God has blessed us with (Gen.28:22; Pr.3:9-10).

III. Tithing precedes the Mosaic Law (Gen.14:18-20).

IV. Tithes are holy unto the Lord and are not to be tampered with (Lev.27:30-33).

V. Tithes are used for the support of the priesthood (Num.18:21-23; Neh.10:37; Heb.7:1-10). We must share our blessings with those that teach us the Word, not only with money , but in “all good things” (Gal.6:6).

The priesthood includes;
A. High priests who conduct worship (Num.18:1-7),
B. Maintenance workers for the tabernacle and its contents (Num.1:50;
2Chr.34:12,13; Ezra 3:8,9),
C. Treasury workers (1Chr.9:26; 2Chr.24:5,11),
D. Teachers (Duet.33:10; 2Chr.17:8,9),
E. Singers and Musicians (1Chr.23:5),
F. Officers and Judges (1Chr.23:4),
G. Overseers (2Chr.34:12,13).
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VI. The disciple must trust in God’s provision (Mt.10:10; Lk.10:7,8).

VII. If the tithes were redeemed, taken back and converted to money, a fifth was to be added (Lev.27:31). The law of the firstborn called for the tithe of their first fruits, but the firstborn of man and the firstborn of
unclean beasts were to be redeemed (Num.18:15).

VIII. Tithes of the tithes were taken from and given back to the high priests (Num.18:26-32).

IX. Special tithes were used to help the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (Duet.14:28,29; 26:12-15; Amos 4:4).

X. Tithes are to be given without delay (Ex.22:29).

OFFERING

I. Building fund offerings are to be given freely, and abundantly even to the point of being too much (Ex.35:20-29; 36:3-7).

II. Maintenance offerings are to be generously given (2Kings 12:9,10; 2Chr.31:5-19).

REWARDS

I. Giving activates the work of God in our financial affairs (Pr.28:27; Duet.15:7,8,10,11).

II. When people become selfish towards God they suffer financial difficulties (Hag.1:3-6; Mal.3:9-12).

III. God rewards us according to how we have given to Him (Duet.15:4; 2Chr.9:6; 15:7; Pr.11:24; 13:7; 14:22; 21:26; 22:9; Eccl.11:1: Isa.32:8; Mal.3:10-12; Mt.19:21; Lk.6:38; 1Tim.6:18,19; 2Cor.9:16).

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Principles Of Christian Giving

X. Giving must be done cheerful Arial Ex.25:2; 35:21-39;
2Chr.24:10).

XI. Everyone must make an offering (Ex.23:15), whether large or small.

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We Will Now Receive the Offering

We Will Now Receive The Offering
By Paul B Smith

Schools do not teach us some of the things we need to know. This is true when we train for any sort of career. The schools we attend do everything they can do in most cases to prepare their students for their chosen careers, but there are many things that seem to be ignored in the classroom and others that can be learned nowhere else but in the field of experience. Some schools are a lot better than others when it comes to practical training and some are almost totally “ivory tower” in their approach.

At the practical level the primary task of any educational institution is two-fold: first, to teach its students how to study, and second, to show them how to find the materials and information they may need when they start working. An institution that accomplishes these is fulfilling its essential role and has every reason to exist.

However, in my opinion, almost every school could improve its practical training and be a little more realistic in telling students the “facts of life” in their profession, business, trade or whatever. Granted, there are areas of every career that cannot be taught. They must be experienced, but there are also other things that are known and could be taught.

In any area of the Lord’s work one of the topics schools seem to back away from is the actual mechanics of how to take an offering and how to raise money in other ways. I suppose this is a result of the age-old vacant room in the mind of many church people that makes them think there is something wrong about asking for financial support and that it would be a great thing if we could operate the Lord’s work without ever taking an offering. In this sort of mind, then, money for God’s work is not a very spiritual thing, and so, in many areas long hours over many years are spent training young people how to study the Bible, how to teach it, how to organize Sunday Schools, how to develop curricula for them, how to conduct music, arrange music, sing or play instruments with very little attention paid to the fact that none of these other abilities are of much value unless there is a place to do them, people to listen, and an organization to carry forth our ministries.

The young ministers, musicians, or missionaries are not out of school very long before they learn how important the ability to finance their work really is, and how limited their spiritual service will be if they cannot pay their bills.

There are physical activities connected with most of our Christian service. We must learn how to put the elements on a communion table and know the general procedure about how this ordinance may be conducted, before we can be blessed by the spiritual benefits of the Lord�s Supper.

Before we preach someone puts chairs on a platform, lights in a pulpit and maybe turns on a public address system. These are necessary and they are spiritual.

The musician learns where to place the sections of the choir, how to arrange the music it will sing, the logistics of getting people from the choir room to the choir loft decently and in order. All of this, before anyone can sing the praise of God effectively.

The ultimate goal of the Christian educational director is to teach people the Word of God and prepare them for service, but these important “spiritual” things cannot be done until the rooms have been set up, blackboards have been cleared, rolls have been taken, etc. It would be a mistake to say that the teaching is spiritual and the logistics of the set-up and organization are not.

By the time you have read this far you know that I think of the giving of God’s people as an extremely spiritual matter, because that is the way the Bible treats it. Remember, it is one of the graces of the Christian life. But seldom does anyone explain the logistics of asking for an offering.

Any Sort of Offering

We should never apologize for the offering. If you feel that you must apologize, you had better not take it at all.

People will generally respond better when they are happy, but in most cases an “offering joke” does not help much. You should choose a time in the service when the people are rejoicing in the blessings of God. Occasionally, a sad or solemn atmosphere may result in a great response, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Happy people give more generously than sad people.

Do not put pressure on people all the time. All of us become immune to this kind of pressure rather quickly and we arm ourselves against it. Very rarely should it be necessary to take two offerings in one service. Sometimes this can be effective, but usually only if some new or unexpected cause has been presented and it is obvious that the people would like an opportunity of contributing to it. There are many services in The Peoples Church when I call for the ushers as simply as possible and mention no special cause whatsoever. Then, when there is a real need the people will listen and respond. Every service or program should not be a sort of financial crisis.

The three major methods that may be used (although there are probably many others) are:

– Take a retiring offering. Have ushers, or an offering box, at the door for the convenience of people as they leave the service. This would be the way that the smallest offering possible would be given.

– Pass the plates. This is by far the most commonly used method. Except under rare circumstances this produces much more than a retiring offering.

– Use envelopes. A general rule of thumb would be that offering envelopes will about double the amount that is given if envelopes are not used. Envelopes lend an importance to the offering that is usually not achieved if it is just taken in the natural course of events.

These are the main methods, but any method is improved by a great cause. There should be frequent services in which the offering is received for some particular need. Our people are intelligent and they are a bit reluctant to give very largely to general causes or for rather evasive uses. We need to confront our folk with a great deal of respect for their intelligence, and whenever possible state the facts of the need. It doesn’t have to be on a highly emotional level. Sometimes it is enough to say: “Here is what we have. This is what we need. Now is our opportunity to take care of it.”

A Faith Promise Offering

I have already said a great deal about the biblical basis, the essential principles and the philosophy of a faith promise offering. Now, I will deal with the logistics. How do you do it? What is the mechanical procedure of actually putting this good scriptural method into operation?

In every department of our Sunday School we receive a faith promise offering each Sunday morning during our World Missions Conference. We ask for a similar offering in all the sanctuary services, both morning and night, of each Sunday. Because our conference involves two weeks, this means that we repeat the faith promise offering for three consecutive Sundays.

Even if your conference only includes one Sunday you should take the offering on at least two. There are very few churches that have all of their people, even the dedicated ones, present on any single Sunday. In a large church it would usually take at least two or three Sundays to see all the faithful members. This is why most churches have a much larger number of members, even active ones, than they have seating capacity or attendance. If you take your faith promise offering only on one Sunday you will miss many of your people. This is true of any equally important offering.

Every year I prepare a printed outline describing how leaders should ask for faith promises in their classes or departments of our Sunday School. Then I talk to them at a Sunday School workers, meeting and very carefully explain each step. They may vary it from class to class, but it gives them something to start with, based on the success of more than fifty conferences in our own church, as well as scores of others all over the world in just about every denomination and kind of church. These have been conferences where I was usually the main speaker and often responsible for taking the offering.

– Explain your objectives. In any faith promise offering the people must know how the church expects to use the money. I usually tell my people how much we need in order to maintain our existing commitments. I outline these in broad terms, how many missionaries we are helping and at what cost, also what projects we are already involved in. Our home missions projects are also outlined. People want to know how much of their money will go to foreign countries and how much will be used at home for things like rescue missions, Bible schools, and missions whose work is primarily at home. We try to keep by far the majority of our resources for missions going to foreign fields of the world, but very few object if some of it is used for good projects at home.

If you are a large church and your missionary income is quite high, you will discover that eventually you may have to use a percentage of it for overhead. In 1978 we used approximately eleven percent for overhead that is, to share the cost of utilities, maintenance, salaries, office supplies, etc., without which the missionary department could not function, and if it did not function there would be no missions income whatever. When our faith promise was small we were able to use it all for missions and the local church budget carried the overhead, which was also small.

When I announce the amount we need to maintain existing commitments I often say “We need ‘X’ thousands of dollars just to stand still.”

– Give out the envelopes. Although we have already sent envelopes and an, appeal letter to all of our people, we never depend on that, nor do we rely on having envelopes in the pews. We have the ushers come down the aisles and give enough envelopes to the person at the end of the pew so that there is more than enough for everyone including husbands, wives and children.

Avoid having the ushers count envelopes so that there is exactly one for each person. That takes too long. You can afford to be liberal with the envelopes. You will need four or five times the number of envelopes than the number that will be used. Some of those that are left over can be picked up after the service.

Don’t ask the people who want one to put up their hands and ask for one as the ushers go up the aisles. Most of them won’t do it. One of the secrets of good participation in a faith promise offering is to get an envelope into the hands of everyone in the building. I usually say, “Would you be courteous enough to take one. I want everyone to have one when we read it together. Wives don’t let your husbands do all the giving for the family. Be sure every child receives one. The only way people will ever learn how to give is by developing the habit from childhood. Even if you have already filled out one envelope in another service, take another. Give God a chance to speak to you again. You may want to turn in a second envelope that adds to your earlier promise.”

You see, as the conference goes on, more information is given out, a better vision of the fields has been received and God will often speak very definitely to people and urge them to do more than they have already done. Be sure they have an envelope in their hands so that they can obey God if He should speak to them.

If you really trust God yourself, then you should be expecting Him to work all the time. Giving out envelopes is an indication of the preacher’s faith. He is getting prepared for God to work among his people.

– Read what the envelope say’s. Ask your people to follow you from their envelope as you read. Generally it reads something like this: “In dependence upon God I will endeavor to give the amount checked month by month for the next twelve months toward the World Missions program of this church.”

The main words to emphasize are “in dependence upon God.” Point out that this is a promise that is contingent on God’s supply. “I will endeavor” means that you will give it if God provides it. All you are doing now is committing it to God before you have it. Then when it comes there will be no question about how it will be used. Your faith promise has already decided that. If there should be some unforeseen reversal in your circumstances, you are not stuck with a pledge you cannot keep. If you don’t receive it, you can’t give it.

– Explain the Faith Promise System. You can never do this too often. Some new people have never heard about it, others have heard but haven’t learned. There are still others who have learned and haven’t responded.

It has been my privilege to help with the conference and offering of the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi, over a period of a dozen consecutive years. During the early years Dr. John Reed Miller was minister and when he retired Dr. Donald Patterson was gracious enough to continue asking me back. Both of these pastors have contributed substantially to the spirit of World Missions that pervades many of the Presbyterian churches in the deep South.

After a few years with Dr. Miller he used to draw me aside before each Sunday service and urge me to explain the faith promise again. As a result, every year there were people who made a promise in this way for the first time. Even after fifty years of explanation in The Peoples Church we still have some folk who never made a faith promise.

The points to cover in your own way are:

a) This is not a cash offering. You don’t need cash to participate. Having explained this, I usually add that we are using an envelope, so that if some wish to put in their first installment, they can do so. If visitors wish to make a one-time cash offering, they can do so. You will lose a considerable potential for missions if you use a card rather than an envelope. Our envelopes also have a flap that is a blank check form already made out to The Peoples Church. Although they will sometimes protest, most banks will accept a blank check form if it is properly filled out, In many places banks are required to do this despite their computer markings. Available check forms always increase an offering.

But then quickly return to the concept that this is not a cash offering.

b) Emphasize that it is not a pledge in the sense that no one will ever ask them for it. It is a covenant between a person and God. It is turned in to the church so that an intelligent budget can be drawn up by the missionary committee for the next twelve months based on the faith of the people.

c) It is a faith promise. At this point I generally quote the basic verse, “Every man (every woman, every boy, every girl) as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give” (II Corinthians 9:7). Sometimes this verse is on the envelope and you can read it.

d) Describe the difference between an intelligent promise and a foolish one. I have dealt with this at great length in my exposition of Corinthians, chapter eight. Now, in brief I usually say, “It would be foolish to promise one dollar more than the Holy Spirit is urging upon you. It would be just as foolish to promise less. Listen to the voice of God, and as you pray about what you should do, God will direct you.”

– Pray with the people about the amount they should give. For many it will be the first time they have ever done this. They will need good sense and divine guidance.

– Give the people time to fill in their envelopes. Generally, it is better to avoid filling in this time with anything else that might distract them from their faith promise. Sometimes, I continue talking a little bit about the offering. Often, I just stop, and ask the organist to play some background music. I don�t move out of the pulpit. I just stand there and wait until it is obvious that people have finished writing and are ready to turn in their envelopes.

– Collect the promises. We usually have the ushers come forward and pass the plates and then carry them to the office where we have a trained staff to tabulate the total. When I was young my father used to have the promises brought to a table where the monthly gift was multiplied by twelve. Then someone brought them to the pulpit and he would read out the yearly amounts – without names, of course. From there the envelopes were taken to workers with adding machines who gave him totals from time to time until the final amount was in.

This used to be a rather exciting kind of offering sometimes a bit noisy, but in those early days it did a lot to make people “faith promise” conscious. I preach at some conferences that still do this, and very often the results are good. Usually they are churches where my father led their first conference and taught them how to do it by calling out amounts and using adding machines.

More than ten years ago I decided to take a chance and just collect the envelopes and have them tabulated in the office. While this is going on we have the main speaker preach. Once the offering is over he can concentrate on some other aspect of world missions. By the time he is finished, the office has sent me the total. I announce it and have the congregation sing the doxology. On the final Sunday night, after the grand total has been announced we have the choir sing The Hallelujah Chorus. It can be a service to the glory of God that few people ever forget.

Excerpted from “The Senders” World Missions Conferences and Faith Promise Offerings by Paul B Smith

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

Posted in AIS File Library, MI - Missions Ministry0 Comments


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