There are those of us who understand that tithing in its truest form cannot be mandatory. Yet we continue to consider a tithe to be a minimum of our giving, and we do so out of relationship with God and our fellow men.
The problem is that most churches give right around 2% of monies collected to the poor and causes of addressing social injustice. Most of the church’s money goes to compensation packages and gifts, media efforts, and building expansion projects. As church buildings get bigger and grander — including things like multiple restaurants, gyms, bookstores, out-of-this-world multimedia systems, synchronized light, smoke and sound shows, and much, much more — more and more money is unavailable for ministering to people.
The lack of involvement has been dubbed as “starving Jesus” by the great folks over at starvingjesus.com
They ask these great questions: “Where is the love? Why are we stuck in the pew? Are you born again lazy?”
Lazy and disconnected! We are taught to feel accomplished and even superior because we tithe, but what do your neighbors know about you? Better yet, what do you know of your neighbors’ needs? The needs of your community, how do you seek to address them? I mean you, personally, not the religious organization you give to.
If your church uses 98% of every dollar given for overhead and operation costs, then you have only really given 2% of your 10% to the major concerns of the New Testament, haven’t you? Do I get kudos for all the years that I gave so I could hear my pastors preach and so that I could enjoy the wonderful instrumentation and bigger buildings? Shall I tip my hat at myself because I’ve paid for my pastor to drive that $100,000.00 car and live in the mansion with everything their heart desires? As a matter of fact, should I print myself an award for giving consistently to an organization that benefits me and does little for anyone who isn’t attached? Does that make me the most generous Christian ever?
If the point is to give to the poor and those who can’t attend to their needs themselves, then sadly the typical local church is not always the place to get the most bang for your buck in the sowing of your seed.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask the question. It’s a simple email to send.
“Dear Pastor or Board Members,
As a contributor to your organization, I would like a distribution statement, please. I simply need to know how much of our money goes specifically to the poor and standing up for those who are taken advantage of.”
Then ask organizations like Feed the Children and the Red Cross.
As a matter of fact, let me help you.
Distribution Percentages for Feed the Children:
During FY 2007, Feed The Children committed $459,130,694 to program services.
Here is the percentage breakdown of expenditures:
- Program Services (childcare, food, medical, disaster relief, and community development): 83%
- Fundraising: 13%
- Management and Supporting Services: 4%
- Total: 100%
And your church?
The Red Cross keeps management and support services at around 8% found in this report readily available on their website. You can easily compare spending habits by going to your church’s website and pulling up it’s annual report, Form 990 or distribution statement. Certainly there is no reason why, as a good steward, you can’t know exactly where your money is going. Certainly your church encourages this.
The visionaries over at relational tithe dot com have launched an experiment. Here is what the welcome page says:
|Welcome to Relational Tithe|
Bottom line is this: there is a disconnect between Christ and the Church. Many who stand on the outside identify money and the church’s mismanagement of it as a key reason why. Are we listening?
There is a disconnect between the increasing prosperity demonstrated by the church and the increasing poverty in our cities.
There is a disconnect between preaching that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, then turning around and doing more receiving and rejoicing over receiving than giving.
The only way to reconnect is to confront the issue honestly and change. Short of that, we can keep printing awards for those who are proud of tithing to their own benefit.