A couple of years ago my wife spoke with a friend and told her we missed her and her family since we hadn't seen them in church for a while. Our friend said that they had stopped coming because times were tough and they weren't able to tithe - and they felt guilty. My wife assured her that they could come anyway - giving money was so far from what it was all about - but the story got me wondering how many people feel that way about church. Is this the way the church presents itself - even without meaning to?
I had to admit that the church we were part of at the time had a definite two-levels of membership based on whether or not you were actively giving. You could be a member for free (yay!), but to really be able to serve and participate, you had to be a "tithing member". This meant that in order to serve on church governing boards or vote on church issues or serve in various ministries, you had to be giving 10% of your annual income (incidentally, this didn't apply to nursery workers. Apparently, no one cared about your tithing record as long as you were willing to change poopy pants).
So . . . I got out my John MacArthur Study Bible and began studying the topic of tithing for myself - apart from the tried and true church propaganda. What I began to discover surprised and angered me, and I'll be sharing my findings in the next few posts.
For now, I leave you with this apt quote by venerable theologian John Stott (Christianity Today, January 8, 1996):
"The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh Biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform."