Should a church tithe? Are churches supposed to tithe 10% of the offerings they receive?
Under the Mosaic Law, the Jews were required to tithe, a word meaning a tenth. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, believers are called to put something aside for the church, but no percentage is given. Instead, giving should be done willing, not under compulsion, and with a cheerful heart (see 2 Corinthians 9:7). This giving goes to the local church. Many local churches then give a portion of what they receive to support outside ministries. In some denominations, each church is expected to give 10% of the offerings it receives to the denomination to support the denomination's work and worldwide missionary outreach.
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Is the practice of a church tithing 10% of its offerings biblical? While it is certainly biblical for a church to give to help those outside of its local church, no particular method is required. A church can choose to give 10% of its offerings, or any other amount, to work outside of its church. Some churches even make ambitious goals of giving 20% or even 50% of all giving it receives to serve others in need.
What a church is able to give to those outside of its local congregation will vary greatly from one place to the next. A remote congregation in a developing nation may not have the financial resources to support other ministries, but can still help those in their local community in need. An affluent congregation in a major city, however, can use its abundance to resource many others, becoming a blessing to those in need.
Some church planting movements today use the concept of the church tithing 10% to reproduce new churches. For example, the new church is funded for two years from the church planting group. After two years, the new church begins giving 10% of the giving it receives to the church planting group to start even more churches. Though not a biblical requirement, this model has been used to help reproduce many new local congregations.
Again, some denominations also practice this model. If every church in the denomination gives 10% of what it receives to the denomination's work, much missionary work can take place through the combined power of many churches working together.
In 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 we read: "We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints." These believers were in poverty, yet gave abundantly to help the poor in other places, and were considered generous as a result. Our goal should likewise be to help those in need in whatever ways we can, whether through a proportional 10% gift or other means.
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