Someone recently shared that the believers in the US give less than 2% of their possessions to the mission work. I do not think that anyone has done such a survey in Europe, but I would expect that the percentage would be much smaller. Somehow teaching on the issues of giving in general, and then giving for the work of God in particular, is rather absent in local churches. There is a lot of talk, however, about a humanitarian aid, helping the homeless and giving to those in need during Christmas season, and people generally give. Interestingly, Europeans are one of the first to give for ‘humanitarian’ causes and to give large sums of funds. But, somehow, church work and missionaries should not expect the same kind of generosity.
The debate always starts with a rhetorical question – Should we tithe in a church? And the response is: No, this is an Old Testament practice; we should give generously and sacrificial. But, in practice, we do not do any of the two, and in addition we do not give 10%, but less. In Luke 11:41-42, Mark 8:36 we learn about Jesus’ attitude toward this issue. Craig Blomberg says in Heart, Soul and Money that principle in these verses speaks of the tithe belonging to the Law, and it is not required in the times of gospel. However, Jesus calls disciples to give generously and sacrificial! Each believer today ought to evaluate and measure what this means in his/hers life.
One factor that makes it even more difficult is that churches do not teach nor preach about the mission. Without the urgency to proclaim the gospel to the end of the earth, there is no prayer and soul-searching, and no support – giving included. I believe that any teaching on stewardship should also consider this biblical mandate that is an overall theme.
A teaching program that would explain to the local believers the importance of mission in God’s plan, and His mandate to humans to do it, from both OT and NT, coupled with a proper teaching on stewardship, would help people realize their role in the overall economy of God. We do not teach enough on mission, we do not teach enough on stewardship, it is not a surprise that giving for God’s work is behind the ‘humanitarian’ causes.
We ought to find a right balance between giving for the ‘aid’ purposes, which is nice and noble and needed, and giving for the ‘God’ purposes, which is nice and noble and very needed – but also biblically mandated to all of us, and each one of us.
What do you think on this topic of heart and money?
Photo credit: Andy Newman