NEARLY EVERY CHRISTIAN denomination and tradition has official teachings about financial giving, wealth, and stewardship intended to guide members in faithful Christian practices concerning uses of income and wealth. This appendix provides a summary of many of those teachings in order to substantiate the point made in the introduction that American Christians have plenty of clear religious normative teachings instructing them to give generously of their means. The denominations and traditions here are reviewed in alphabetical order. Italics below are added to highlight particularly relevant passages.
African Methodist Episcopal Church (Zion)
The standard of faith for the A.M.E. Church is the Twenty‐Five Articles of Religion, which John Wesley extracted from the Thirty‐Nine Articles of the Church of England. The A.M.E.'s founder, Richard Allen, adopted the Twenty‐Five Articles of Religion as sufficient for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Article 24, on “Of Christian Men's Goods,” reads: “The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally, to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.” The denomination describes its “Mission and Purpose” in this way:
To minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel (p.198) through word and deed. At every level … the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and serve the needy through a continuing program of: (1) preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2) feeding the hungry, (3) clothing the naked, (4) housing the homeless, (5) cheering the fallen, (6) providing jobs for the jobless, (7) administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions, senior citizens' homes; caring for the sick, the shut‐in, the mentally and socially disturbed, and (8) encouraging thrift and economic advancement.
American Baptist Churches U.S.A.
In June 1991, the General Board of the denomination adopted an “American Baptist Policy Statement on Encouraging the Tithe: Growing and Giving in Grace,” an elaborate document, which includes the following selections:
American Baptists are living and worshiping in a time and a society obsessed with possessing. Many voices of our society urge decisions based on “acquiring,” asserting that “personal worth” is determined by one's accumulation of money and possessions. We struggle to reconcile God's call to “give” with society's insistence to “get.” As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to challenge the misappropriation of God's resources. In the struggle between “giving” and “getting,” we look for guidance in the practice of tithing as a biblical path to growing and giving in grace. The tithe is, for Christians, not a legalistic obligation, but an opportunity for grateful response to God's grace. Tithing, properly understood, provides a biblical, practical and timely guideline for giving. It restores a sense of perspective about how to deal with our material goods. The tithe helps Christians reexamine their personal and congregational values and adjust their lifestyles to have more to share with others in a world of need….
Biblical stewardship teaches the recognition that all we have and all we are belongs to God. We are not the self‐centered owners of anything. Rather, in light of the Gospels, we are to be responsible stewards of all we possess. The Bible calls for the grateful use of God's gifts and resources in light of God's purposes, through a personal lifestyle for which each is accountable to God. Such stewardship was a principal focus of Jesus' teaching. It is a central element of Christian discipleship….(p.199)
As children of God and followers of Jesus, American Baptists have stewardship responsibilities in all areas of life … [including] carefully managing all financial resources God has entrusted to us, sharing them in the service of Christ's mission to all persons (Matthew 6:19–21, 2 Corinthians 9:6–7)…. God has entrusted us with time, talents and resources—gifts we are expected to use wisely and generously. Trying to reflect God's image as “givers” in the midst of daily choices makes decisions concerning personal finances unavoidable. Though God does not declare money to be evil, God does warn us against worshiping money or becoming dependent on it. Jesus clearly taught about dangers inherent in accumulating wealth for its own sake. How we spend our money reveals our priorities and the depth of our commitment. Our stewardship addresses the reconciliation between financial and faith commitments….
Christians do not live by law, but by God's grace as revealed in Jesus Christ. If the tithe were demanded by the law, it is inconceivable that we would consider giving less under grace…. As affluent American Christians who are encircled by a consumer mentality where greed abounds, many of us no longer understand the meaning of words like “generosity” and “sacrifice.” We need a guide, a benchmark, a beginning point. Clement of Alexandria called the tithe a formation for generosity. We believe the tithe is the answer for American Baptists. Tithing allows us to express the new basis upon which we build our new lives….
Talking about the tithe often raises questions, such as: Do we tithe net or gross income? Does what is given to charities “count” as tithe? Ultimately, each believer must decide the base amount upon which to tithe and the ministries to which it will go. However, the spirit of gratitude which the tithe represents can be destroyed when the spirit of these questions becomes legalistic and narrow. American Baptists should see tithing as an expression of Christian grace, not a legalistic way of earning grace. It is a response—not a requirement. The progression of stewardship toward and beyond the tithe can be a discipline that frees us to comprehend the fullness of the Gospel and the riches of God's grace. We believe American Baptists, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, informed by the study of scripture and in the context of Christian community, will discern that the discipline of tithing is a vital step in Christian discipleship….
“How much is too much?” For some, 10% is a real sacrifice, perhaps too much to give. For many American Baptists, however, 10% does not begin to represent sacrificial giving. Because of this, the tithe (p.200) should be seen as a good beginning, not the ultimate achievement, in the stewardship of acknowledging God as Owner and Giver of all. The tithe is a step in our pattern of discipleship, marking our practice of growing and giving in grace….
American Baptists are called to stewardship of all of life. The biblical record is clear: everything is from God and we are responsible to manage it according to God's priorities. In responding to the challenges of Christian stewardship in every area of life, we are called to shape decisions about our personal finances in light of God's claim on our lives.
Tithing, the giving of 10% of one's income to the work of God through the church, can provide a biblical, practical, timely giving guideline for Christian disciples…. Tithing … is a clear teaching within Old Testament law. This teaching is not abolished in the New Testament, but enriched and transformed by grace. Tithing, in light of the gospel, becomes a privilege under grace rather than an obligation under law. Tithing may be seen as a minimum standard for Christians seeking a biblical base for financial stewardship…. We call upon each American Baptist to consider the biblical challenge of the tithe as an appropriate beginning response to God's grace. Where the tithe may be deemed not immediately possible, we encourage an intentional program of moving steadily toward the tithe in yearly increments. We call on American Baptists, who are willing and able, to accept the challenge of moving beyond the tithe. We call upon the laity in our churches to encourage and empower preaching and teaching on financial stewardship in general and the tithe in particular, and to share the testimony of tithing in their own lives…. We call upon each person who reads and votes upon this policy statement to become a tither or move toward becoming one using an intentional program of percentage giving, with the biblical 10% as the tithing norm.
Assemblies of God
This, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, also instructs as a formal denominational position its followers to tithe 10 percent of income. According to the denomination, the following position, elaborated in its General Council Bylaws, Article IX, Section 7a, “reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery”: (p.201)
The Assemblies of God has always been a proponent of tithing (or giving one‐tenth of one's personal income to support the work of God). We believe tithing is a recognition that everything we have comes from God. The practice checks our greed, promotes personal discipline and thrift, testifies to our faith, promotes God's work in the world, and alleviates human need. While we do not believe tithing to be a condition for salvation, we do believe it is a very important biblical model, one which should set the minimal standard for Christian giving for people in all income ranges. Though some people believe tithing was an Old Testament practice not intended for New Testament Christians, the Assemblies of God believes and teaches that tithing is still God's design for supporting the ministry and reaching the world with the gospel. Our bylaws state, “We recognize the duty of tithing and urge all our people to pay tithes to God” (Article IX, Section 7a.) It is true there is no direct commandment in the New Testament saying, “You must tithe to God one‐tenth of your income”; but there is also no statement declaring the Old Testament plan as no longer valid…. Today's church still relies on the support of tithers. Christians can miss out on God's abundant blessing by looking on the tithe as the entire requirement for giving. The tithe is only one aspect of support for the church and its ministry of spreading the gospel. The Bible also mentions voluntary offerings given by God's people over and above the required tithe…. The Assemblies of God is also concerned about people who withhold tithes when they do not like decisions and directions espoused by spiritual leaders. Christians should fellowship with a local body of believers and bring their whole tithes into that storehouse (Malachi 3:10). Though some of the Israelites may not have liked decisions made by Moses and his successors, they were given no alternatives. While we may designate some of our offerings (beyond the tithes) to ministries outside the local church, the tithes rightfully belong in the church with which the Christian identifies. And if one is not identifying with a local body of believers, he or she disregards God's instruction that we not forsake assembling together with believers (Hebrews 10:25). Some Christians do not tithe, claiming they cannot afford to give up 10 percent of their income. Simple arithmetic may suggest that 90 percent will not go as far as 100 percent in satisfying essential family needs. But God has built a multiplication factor into our giving of tithes and offerings. Malachi recorded God's words, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse … Test me in this … and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much (p.202) blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10). Though we do not give to God in order to get more back, as some suggest we should, God's promises are still true—if our giving is according to His instruction.
Baptist General Conference
“An Affluent Church in a Hungry World” is the seventh of thirty total BGC denominational standing resolutions, adopted by the BGC in 1979. In its entirety, it reads thus:
I. WHEREAS, we are living in a world that is crying out in its need as evidenced by the facts: A. One out of every seven people in the world is suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and B. Approximately 14,000 people die daily from starvation and related diseases; and WHEREAS, such statistics are beyond our comprehension, they nevertheless show a great and pressing need of our world. Now, as at no other time in the history of mankind, we are painfully aware of the great need of a hungry world, and in an affluent and informed society, we can no longer ignore the need of the world. No longer can we remain silent or uninvolved citizens of a country that can produce more food than it needs, but will not in order to control our own economy and maintain an affluent lifestyle for her citizens. Hunger, retardation, famine and death are the grim realities of much of the underdeveloped nations of our world. Even within our own communities, hunger is a reality to many poor, elderly and unemployed.
II. WHEREAS the Word of God is explicit in its instruction to Christians regarding their responsibility to the poor and hungry, as evidenced by: A. The Old Testament Scriptures Deuteronomy 15:10 promises: “ … the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all you undertake” when we care for the poor and do not begrudge the needy or harden our hearts and shut the hand against the poor. Proverbs 19:17 tells us: “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deeds.” Ezekiel 16:49 tells us: “Behold this was the guilt of your sister Sodom; she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Isaiah 58:10, 11 promises rich blessings for those who care for the needy. B. The New Testament Scripture Mark 6:37 reminds us that our Savior not only fed the hungry, but instructed His disciples to do so. Galatians 2:10 shows it was the example of the early church (p.203) to “remember the poor” and was the eager desire of the Apostle Paul. Matthew 25:40 shows Jesus' concern for the whole man, and that as we minister unto even the least of these His brethren, we have done it unto Him. 1 John 3:17, 18 exhorts us to love not only in word and speech, but in deed and in truth. If we see our brother in need, and close our hearts against him, we cannot say that God's love abides in us.
III. WHEREAS, the Baptist General Conference has been known down through its history as being concerned about the need of the whole man, as seen by our concern for children's and retirement homes, military and institutional chaplaincies and medical work abroad, we must confess that we have not done as much as we could, nor as much as we should. For example, as Conference churches, benevolent giving has averaged approximately 3/4 of 1% of our giving, and that primarily for local needs. Conference giving to world relief, until this past year, has been on a downward trend, and has been primarily in response to world emergencies. For example: 1974–75: $135,632, 1975–76: $117,950, 1976–77: $ 71,463, 1977–78: $ 86,690.
IV. WHEREAS, we are “An Affluent Church in a Hungry World,” in obedience to God, we must respond to the cry of a hungry world, and seek to meet the need of the world around us and abroad. While there are no cheap, easy answers to solve a very complex social, economic, political and agricultural problem, we must do what we can, while we can, and where we can.
V. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: A. That as INDIVIDUALS, and members of the family of God, we, the members of the Baptist General Conference, will seek to develop a lifestyle that will enable us to give an increasing flow of resources to help the poor, suffering, and afflicted in all the world, including our own communities, by: 1) Becoming more informed on the need of the world through reading, listening, and discussing. 2) Praying for the needs and situations of which we are made aware, and asking the Lord to burden our hearts with the need of afflicted people. 3) Giving careful study to the Word of God on portions that pertain to Christian lifestyle, and that these studies be made privately, in our family and church studies. 4) Making sacrificial downward adjustments in our annual expenditures for vacations, food, clothing, entertainment and recreation, and in the quality of our housing and transportation. B. That as LOCAL CHURCHES, and members of the Body of Christ, we adopt a mission which includes in a biblically directed manner, the alleviation of the hunger needs of the world, by: 1) Encouraging our pastors to preach sermon series that deal with the subject of Christian lifestyle (p.204) and caring for the poor. 2) Encouraging the local churches to give a minimum of one percent of their total budget to world relief through the Baptist General Conference. 3) Continuing to show concern for local needs through expanded giving and service to minister to the whole person in our communities. C. That the BAPTIST GENERAL CONFERENCE develop a method of operation which demonstrates to the world that we are concerned about the hunger and suffering of the world, by: 1) Endorsing through specific action, that Christian living calls for Christian caring, and that our dual citizenship obligates us to care for physical as well as spiritual deprivation, as stated in principle in the 1978 Resolution. As a Conference we should seek to modify our concern and response from reacting to periodic disaster relief calls, and recognize hunger and starvation as a continuing world disaster. 2) Directing the Board of Trustees to establish a line item in the UMC budget for World Relief in conjunction with local church giving to the Conference. 3) The Board of Trustees shall direct the World Relief Committee to annually study the need of world relief and submit a proposed budget. The World Relief Committee shall also be directed to seek creative ways to promote a greater awareness of world relief needs throughout our constituency.
The Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church teachings are disseminated through a variety of forms. Among them, a long and coherent tradition of Catholic Social Doctrine has taught the universal purpose of earthly wealth, the rights of the poor to lives of participation and dignity, the obligation of rich nations to give generously for the development of poor nations, and the obligation of all lay Christians to work for the common good of society. Much could be written here about Catholic teachings that bear on the financial giving of believers. For present purposes, however, we focus attention on a readily accessible and authoritative source of teachings for U.S. believers, the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church. According to then Pope John Paul II, writing his approval and promulgation of the text, the Catechism is “a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine,” “a new, authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith … [that] will serve … as a sure norm for teaching the faith,” and a “genuine, systematic presentation of the faith and of Catholic doctrine in a totally reliable way.” If lay Catholics were to want to know what the Church teaches about financial giving, the Catechism would be a definite place to turn. Selections in it relevant for instruction on the financial (p.205) giving of Catholic believers include the following (from which original textual cross‐reference notations and biblical citations have been removed here for ease of reading):
1351. From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make us rich…. Those who are well off, and who are also willing, give as each chooses. What is gathered is given to him who presides to assist orphans and widows, those whom illness or any other cause has deprived of resources, prisoners, immigrants and, in a word, all who are in need.
2401. The seventh commandment [You shall not steal] forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one's neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men's labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world's goods to God and to fraternal charity.
2402–2403. In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men. The right to private property, acquired by work or received from others by inheritance or gift, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.
2404–2406. In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself. The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family. Goods of production—material or immaterial—such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them (p.206) in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor. Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.
2439–2440a. Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly. Direct aid is an appropriate response to immediate, extraordinary needs caused by natural catastrophes, epidemics, and the like.
2441. An increased sense of God and increased self‐awareness are fundamental to any full development of human society. This development multiplies material goods and puts them at the service of the person and his freedom. It reduces dire poverty and economic exploitation. It makes for growth in respect for cultural identities and openness to the transcendent.
2442–2444. It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens. God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: “Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you”; “you received without pay, give without pay.” It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When “the poor have the good news preached to them,” it is the sign of Christ's presence. “The Church's love for the poor … is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to “be able to give to those in need.” It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.
2445. Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth‐eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the (p.207) cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.”
2447. The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities…. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God: “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise.” “But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.” “If a brother or sister is ill‐clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?”
2448. In its various forms—material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death—human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere.
2459. Man is himself the author, center, and goal of all economic and social life. The decisive point of the social question is that goods created by God for everyone should in fact reach everyone in accordance with justice and with the help of charity.
2544. Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.
2545–2546. All Christ's faithful are to “direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary (p.208) to the spirit of evangelical poverty.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs. The Word speaks of voluntary humility as “poverty in spirit”; the Apostle gives an example of God's poverty when he says: “For your sakes he became poor.”
2547. The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods. “Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.
Finally, in 1986, the U.S. Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter applying Catholic Social Teachings to the U.S. economy. Like the Catechism quoted above, the instructions in this pastoral letter on the subjects of wealth, charity, justice, solidarity, and sharing are abundant and complex. For present purposes, we here cite only one selection from the letter specifically addressing the need for “sacrificial giving or tithing” by individuals and households in order to sustain the Church:
351. We bishops commit ourselves to the principle that those who serve the Church—laity, clergy, and religious—should receive a sufficient livelihood and the social benefits provided by responsible employers in our nation. These obligations, however, cannot be met without the increased contributions of all the members of the Church. We call on all to recognize their responsibility to contribute monetarily to the support of those who carry out the public mission of the Church. Sacrificial giving or tithing by all the People of God would provide the funds necessary to pay these adequate salaries for religious and lay people; the lack of funds is the usual underlying cause for the lack of adequate salaries. The obligation to sustain the Church's institutions—education and health care, social service agencies, religious education programs, care of the elderly, youth ministry, and the like—falls on all the members of the community because of their baptism; the obligation is not just on the users or on those who staff them. Increased resources are also needed for the support of elderly members of religious communities. These dedicated women and men have not always asked for or received the stipends and pensions that would have assured their future. It would be a breach of our obligations to them to let them or their communities face retirement without adequate funds.
The CMA teaches tithing and proportionate giving directed by heart‐felt love for God. Its work of stewardship is headed by a “Great Commission Fund” section of the denomination, whose stated mission is: “Providing stewardship resources to Alliance churches helping Alliance people fulfill their biblical roles as stewards of God's possessions. Our Vision: C&MA churches excelling in the ‘grace of giving’ through lifestyle stewardship.” Its teaching on “The Biblical Background of Tithing” states that, “Tithing has been found as a key principle in history…. In the Old Testament there were three kinds of tithes…. In the New Testament, tithing is specifically mentioned four times. The passages in Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42, Luke 18:12, and Hebrews 7:4–9 do not constitute a major teaching. As a matter of fact, Jesus does not teach about tithing; but He does not repeal the tithing either. He affirms its importance to discipleship and faithfulness to God.” In a 2001 CMA denominational position paper, “Stewardship and the Kingdom of God,” the authors write, “The heart is the key issue, and if we are merely stewards of what is ultimately owned by God, then the driving question we must put to ourselves is not, ‘How much do I give?’ but ‘How much dare I keep?’ ”
Christian Reformed Church (CRC)
The CRC Web site teaches this about Christian stewardship:
Christian stewardship is the joyous management of all of life and life's resources so that God's mission on earth is accomplished. Every believer, responding in love to God's abundant outpouring of material blessings, shares the responsibility of Christian stewardship. Everything that we “own” is actually “on loan” from God. For as the apostle Paul wrote, “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim. 6:7). Of course, these material blessings include our money. Some have more; some have less. Regardless of the size of our bank account, we have the responsibility to give sacrificially for God's mission through His church. God is pleased with the sacrifices of His people…. The Christian Reformed Church believes that Christian stewardship is essential for the health and mission of the church. The gospel is spread on the wings of those who give generously and sacrificially. Thank you for your participation as joyous stewards.
To sustain the work and ministry of this denomination at home and abroad, the Christian Reformed Church relies on the regular giving of its churches, members, and friends…. Ministries require more money than … agencies receive through ministry shares [denominational quotas]. Direct gifts to the individual agencies provide the balance. Many Christians decide what they can give to the church and its work by “tithing,” using the biblical principle of offering one‐tenth of their income to the Lord.
Church of the Brethren
An undated Handbook of Basic Beliefs within the Church of the Brethren teaches the following, “not to become creeds, but to give guidance, and to point to the great truths of the Christian faith”: “The ideals of temperance (1 Corinthians 9:25), purity (1 Corinthians 6:9–11), and simple living (Matthew 6:28–33), are to be taught and observed. Christians are stewards of their possessions, and should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of Christ's cause on earth.” Furthermore, in 1985, the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren issued a statement on “Christian Stewardship: Responsible Freedom” that in its section IV on “Stewardship of Financial Resources” declared the following:
For the wise and faithful steward, material possessions and money become instruments of service to others, to further the human community God intends. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21)…. Sharing material possessions and money to any degree nearing sacrificial giving is difficult for most people. So often security, sense of self‐worth, and comparative value as an individual are based on what we have rather than on who we are as children of God and members of the household. The ultimate test of Christian stewardship, however, is how we relate to God and the covenant community, and how we live out that understanding in service and sharing. There are several reasons we share our material possessions and money. We share as a response of gratitude for the love and blessings received from God. How else could we respond? God's love and caring for us is boundless. The natural response to such good news is to share joyfully and unselfishly. We share our wealth also as a ministry of love in helping to supply the material (p.211) needs of others. As children of God, we are loved and valued equally. Every being contributes to God's plan and should have the opportunity to develop full potential. As stewards of God, we work together to feed the hungry and oppressed, to befriend the friendless, to work for peace and justice, to work for the equitable distribution of the earth's bounty. Sharing possessions is also a personal journey of discipline and maturity in faith. Jesus' teachings and life of total commitment and sharing are examples to us and challenge us to love our neighbors and serve their needs. Through tithing and proportionate giving we are freed to grow and reach beyond ourselves, to simplify standards of living and keep materialism in perspective. As stewards of God we come together in the faith community to live for the sake of the world…. We unite our unique abilities, our labors, and the fruit of our labor, which is our money, and bring them to God who blesses them and distributes them in the name and service of Christ. As the people of God, we look beyond our own salvation and security and deal with God's yearning that all the peoples of the earth know and accept divine love. It is the call to mission beyond ourselves. Clearly, we are called to share. How then do we know how and how much of our material possessions to share? There are several models for financial stewardship in scripture. When Jesus called his first disciples, “they left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11). Jesus told the rich ruler, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). Another New Testament model is that of the early Christians living in community in Jerusalem with shared possessions and goods (Acts 2:43–47; 4:32–35). In I Corinthians 16:2, Paul calls for regular and proportionate giving: “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come.” Yet another model is the collection which Paul took up among the Gentile churches to assist believers in Jerusalem, a model emphasizing the responsibility of the well‐off for the economically distressed (2 Cor. 8–9). The Old Testament models for financial stewardship include tithing or the giving of the tenth (Lev. 27:30–32), offering of the first fruits (Prov. 3:9), and the time of jubilee or restoration (Lev. 25). Thus stewards were to share the tenth part of certain possessions as an offering, to give from the best, and to observe a time when all were restored to the condition God gave them. This was a part of Jewish law and culture. The obvious difference between the New Testament and Old (p.212) Testament models is that Christian stewardship requires more. Jesus was concerned with all of a person's life and possessions. Sharing is to be as one “may prosper” and in response to the need of others. Sharing is to be joyful, celebrative, and out of a response of gratitude. Stewardship is total. That is not to say that the Old Testament model of tithing is irrelevant for today. As a part of Jewish law and culture, the biblical material on tithing remains valuable as an illustration of how the people of God in an earlier period took stewardship seriously. Tithing has illustrative value for us as it provides a model of defining measurable standards of performance for our giving. Tithing is an appropriate first‐step discipline in deciding how much is enough to share. As Christian stewards, we do not have the ease of a law or formula to determine whether or not we are “faithful and wise.” There is no percentage of our income and accumulated wealth that, if shared with the church, automatically discharges our obligation to God, other persons, and the faith community. We must be aware of the use of all of our resources, even those we use to maintain ourselves. We have freedom to choose the portion we share with the church, but it is freedom with responsibility. We are ultimately accountable to God. Our stewardship of wealth must begin somewhere. Through a discipline such as tithing we take the first step in responsible freedom as God's stewards. As followers of Christ, and believers of the Word, with knowledge of the inequities and injustices in the world today, we can do no less.
Church of the Nazarene
The Nazarene's polity book, Covenant of Church Conduct, teaches the following in its section on “Christian Stewardship”:
The Scriptures teach that God is the Owner of all persons and all things. We, therefore, are his stewards of both life and possessions…. We shall be held personally accountable to God for the exercise of our stewardship. God, as a God of system and order in all of His ways, has established a system of giving that acknowledges His ownership and human stewardship. To this end all His children should faithfully tithe and present offerings for the support of the gospel…. All who are part of the Church of the Nazarene are urged to contribute faithfully one‐tenth of all their increase as a minimum financial obligation to the Lord and freewill offerings in addition as God has prospered them for the support of the whole (p.213) church, local, district, regional, and general…. It is [also] essential in the exercise of Christian stewardship that careful thought be given as to what shall be done with the residue of one's income and possessions over which the Lord makes the Christian a steward during this life. Civil laws often do not provide for the distribution of an estate in such a way as to glorify God. Each Christian should give attention to the preparation of a last will and testament in a careful and legal manner, and the Church of the Nazarene through its various ministries of mission, evangelism, education, and benevolence… is recommended for consideration.
Churches of Christ
The Churches of Christ view themselves as an “un‐denomination” lacking any central headquarters or president. According to their Web site, their belief “is stated fully and completely in the Bible. There is no other manual or discipline to which the members of the church of Christ give their allegiance.” The Internet Ministries of the Churches of Christ provide answers to basic questions, under the section “Who are the churches of Christ and what do they believe in?” written by Batsell Barrett Baxter. The answer to the question, “By what means does the church secure financial support?” is this:
Each first day of the week the members of the church “lay by in store as they have been prospered” (1 Corinthians 16:2). The amount of any individual gift is generally known only to the one who gave it and to the Lord. This free‐will offering is the only call which the church makes. NO assessments or other levies are made. No money‐making activities, such as bazaars or suppers, are engaged in.
Church of God (Cleveland, TN)
This denomination teaches tithing as normative financial giving for members. According to the denomination's Web site, which appeals to multiple corroborating scripture references, “the following Doctrinal Commitments [that] represent the core beliefs of the denomination as outlined in Scripture [include] …. tithing and giving.” The denomination's Department of Stewardship provides numerous resources to teach and encourage tithing. Among them is an independent study Internet course, “Tithing: The Divine Principle,” (p.214) described as “An introductory, seminary‐level study of biblical tithing in the context of contemporary, Spirit‐filled Christian faith and ministry. Primary attention will be given to Scriptural references to tithing, different approaches to the study, interpretation, and application of biblical tithing, the Holy Spirit's role in the matter of tithing, and discernment of appropriate responses, both individual and corporate.” Also offered are books, including titles such as Proving God: Triumphant Living through Tithing.
Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches
The “Covenant” of the Disciples of Christ affirms the need of members to “share mutually and more fully the stewardship of God's gifts of our life in Christ.” Stewardship, as defined on the denomination's Web site, is:
grateful and responsible use of God's gifts in the light of God's purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ. Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions. Stewardship is lived out in … wisely employing God‐given human resources, abilities, and relationships; sharing the material resources we hold and giving them in service, justice, and compassion; providing for future generations.
The denomination's charter, called “The Design of the Christian Church,” states, “We commit ourselves to one another and to God … [to] furnish means by which all expressions of the church may fulfill their ministries with faithful Christian stewardship.” The Design also states that “congregations demonstrate their mutual concern for the mission and witness of the whole church … [by being] faithful in Christian stewardship, striving to share proportionately in providing the resources for the total life, work, and witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),” also noting that, “all financial support of the general and regional programs of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by congregations and individuals is voluntary.”
The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.
Common official church teachings for the U.S. Episcopal Church are set by its General Conventions. Most recently, in its 73rd General Convention in 2000, the following resolution, emphasizing tithing as a minimum expression of extravagant giving, was passed: (p.215)
We believe: We are the children of God, and we need to give. In every aspect of our lives, we are entrusted to be stewards of God's creation. God invites us to give freely and to exercise joyfully our gifts through mission and ministry. We commit ourselves: To boldly claim God's abundant provision in our lives; to offer extravagantly our time, talent, and money to do God's work; and to practice tithing as a minimum standard of giving. We challenge members of the Episcopal Church: To confront our fears of scarcity; to embrace a new vision of stewardship through a joyful response to God's extravagant gifts; and to empower the mission of Christ through generous giving. We invite: Leadership groups in dioceses and congregations to develop their own stewardship statements in order to promote response to the gospel; and be it further Resolved, That we, the Deputies and Bishops of this convention, give thanks to God for those who embrace tithing as a faithful individual response to the grace of God.
This resolution built upon the following prior statement, “Stewardship is the Main Work of the Church,” that also recommended tithing, which was adopted by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in 1988:
Stewardship is the main work of the Church…. Stewardship is more than a duty: it is a thankful response to God's graciousness to us…. Stewardship is an adventure, an expedition into the kingdom where we find our lives through losing them for the sake of the gospel. It is an invitation to offer our gifts for the purpose for which we were created—the only purpose that will fulfill us. It is a challenge to refocus our lives by designing our budgets around tithing. It offers us a way to begin breaking the bonds of consumption that involve us, often unwittingly, in perpetuating injustice and oppression.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
In its central document on Christian discipleship, “Living Faith: ECLA‐wide Call to Discipleship,” the ECLA member is enjoined to give financially, as follows:
The growing disciple finds ways to unpack and use … [their] gifts for the sake of Jesus, the church, and the world. Knowing God has (p.216) entrusted us with abilities and goods, we ask, “How can we use these resources to love God?” Thus we do not waste time striving to be rich in things, but to be rich in love. The maturing disciple is also maturing in financial stewardship, understands the biblical concept of the tithe and is growing in sacrificial and joyful giving toward and beyond a ten percent response in all areas of life. Part of the disciple's job description is to give freely.
In August, 1999, in its sixth Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA adopted by a more than two‐thirds majority vote (872–124) a denominational social statement, “Sufficient Sustainable Livelihood for All.” This elaborate statement—one of eight major denominational social statements—analyzes many aspects of poverty, consumerism, economic globalization, and other economic issues that it declares often conflict with Christian moral teachings on economics, wealth, and stewardship. In response, the statement sets the shared goal of “sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all” as a benchmark for pursuing faith‐informed changes in economic life. Toward that end, the statement commits the church and its members to numerous obligations, a selection of which follows. “We commit ourselves as a church,” the statement reads, “and urge members” to:
• give more to relieve conditions of poverty, and invest more in initiatives to reduce poverty
• provide counsel, food, clothing, shelter, and money for people in need, in ways that respect their dignity
• generously support organizations and community‐based efforts that enable low‐income people to obtain more sufficient, sustainable livelihoods
• examine how we are in bondage to our possessions and can be freed to be faithful stewards of them
• serious and ongoing consideration in our families and congregations of how to resist the allure of consumerism and live lives less oriented toward the accumulation of goods and financial assets
• educate one another, beginning with the young, on how to deal responsibly with money, credit, and spending within one's means
• give generously of our wealth (for example, through tithing and planned giving), especially for purposes that serve the needs of others
• learn about, participate in, and provide financial support for community economic development and organizing strategies that enhance the current and future well‐being of communities and the environment
The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States comprises a Department of Stewardship Ministry, which promotes generous financial giving, described as follows:
Christian Stewardship is a life‐style, which acknowledges accountability and responsibility before God. Becoming a Steward begins when we say we believe in God, to whom we give our love, loyalty and trust. We affirm that every aspect of our lives comes as a gift from Him. Stewards are motivated as recipients of God's abundant love, to respond by participating and supporting His plan of salvation and the ministries of the Church, which make salvation possible for them and for others. In the Bible, the Steward is depicted as a person who is given the responsibility of managing something that belongs to the Owner, God. The Steward as the manager is thus accountable to the Owner for all that he possesses and is responsible to return to the Lord his or her fair share in gratitude and thanksgiving. As God has been generous to us, He expects us to be generous toward the work of Christ and His Church. Our Stewardship Commitment is the tool of ministry, salvation and healing for us and for others. Christian Stewardship is the privilege and honor of directly supporting God's work on earth through the Church. A flourishing parish Christian Stewardship Program can be compared to a river, which overflows into many tributaries and reaches out in many directions to share with others our rich and profound spiritual inheritance. Success on the local level emanates to greater support and outreach on all levels of ministry: local, national and international….
The Greek Orthodox Church Department of Stewardship Ministry has instituted a “Total Commitment Program,” using the biblical passage of 1 Corinthians 16:2 to collect parish funds for use in Archdiocese programs. Believers are taught to “give on a regular basis, [rather] than to wait until we have enough to meet our spiritual and financial obligation.” The resources and literature that the Archdiocese makes available to members through its Web site teach proportionate giving and tithing as normal practices of Christian giving.
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
This denomination's “Declaration of Faith” states clearly: “We believe that the method ordained of God to sustain His ministry and spread the gospel (p.218) after His command is ‘Tithing’ and is generally accepted throughout all Foursquare churches…. In the matter of ‘giving’ and ‘free will offerings,’ they are ordered of the Lord…. We know that giving unto His kingdom …. is an enjoyable thing, it being more blessed to give than to receive.”
International Pentecostal Holiness Church
The core beliefs of this denomination are spelled out in its “Covenant of Commitment,” which describes the call to stewardship as follows:
Our commitment to Jesus Christ includes stewardship. According to the Bible everything belongs to God. We are stewards of His resources. Our stewardship of possessions begins with the tithe. All our members are expected to return a tenth of all their income to the Lord. This tithe is to be paid into the “storehouse.” This storehouse is the treasury of the local church or conference to which this member belongs. In addition to the tithe, all our members are expected to give offerings out of the ninety percent of God's wealth which He allows them to use. Stewardship also includes our time, talent, and spiritual gifts, as well as our money.
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
At its 1995 Convention (Resolution 4–07a) the LCMS asked its Department of Stewardship to “articulate the biblical principles of financial stewardship (Bylaw 9.01) which should guide all of our stewardship and appeal efforts, and disseminate these to all synodical entities, agencies and auxiliaries prior to the 1998 convention.” The “Biblical Stewardship Principles” that were developed in response and later approved—that are “designed to be used by entities, agencies, auxiliaries and congregations of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in all stewardship education and fund‐raising activities”—is clear that Christian stewardship is not simply about money or merely meeting an organization's budget or financial goals. However, the Principles also include the following teaching commitments:
As children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit's help, we will: Encourage proper management of all of life and life's resources for God's purposes; Promote materials and approaches to stewards that are firmly grounded in the Owner/manager understanding of stewardship; Encourage cheerful, first‐fruit, proportionate (including (p.219) but not limited to tithing) living and giving in all areas of life by Christian stewards; and, Receive and use God's gifts with thanksgiving…. Recognize the personal and sensitive nature of the steward's response; and yet emphasize the truth that Christian stewards are members of the Body of Christ and are in kingdom work together with fellow Christians; and, Remind Christian stewards that God showers blessings upon those who manage them wisely and well for the common good. As children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit's help, we will not: Minimize the bringing of regular offerings as a part of worship and a loving response to God's love for us.
Mennonite Church U.S.A.
The 1995 Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective teaches the following:
We acknowledge that God as Creator is owner of all things. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year were practical expressions of the belief that the land is God's and the people of Israel belong to God. Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, announced the year of the Lord's favor, often identified with Jubilee. Through Jesus the poor heard good news, captives were released, the blind saw, and the oppressed went free. The first church in Jerusalem put Jubilee into practice by preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and sharing possessions. Other early churches shared financially with those in need…. As stewards of money and possessions, we are to live simply, practice mutual aid within the church, uphold economic justice, and give generously and cheerfully. As persons dependent on God's providence, we are not to be anxious about the necessities of life, but to seek first the kingdom of God. We cannot be true servants of God and let our lives be ruled by desire for wealth…. Our tradition of simple living is rooted not in frugality for its own sake, but in dependence on God, the owner of everything, for our material needs. We depend on God's gracious gifts for food and clothing, for our salvation, and for life itself. We do not need to hold on tightly to money and possessions, but can share what God has given us. The practice of mutual aid is a part of sharing God's gifts so that no one in the family of faith will be without the necessities of life. Whether through community of goods or other forms of financial sharing, mutual aid continues the practice of Israel in giving special care to widows, orphans, aliens, and others in economic need (Deut. 24:17–22).(p.220)
Tithes and firstfruit offerings were also a part of this economic sharing (Deut. 26; compare Matt. 23:23)…. We are to seek first the reign of God and to cease from consumerism, unchecked competition, overburdened productivity, greed, and possessiveness.
Also, the Mennonite Church encourages its members to give money through a denomination developed “Firstfruits Funding System,” the stated program of which is based on the belief that
Households, congregations and institutions are only temporary caretakers of financial resources. They should be an example of generosity, even as they care for their own well‐being. The history of God's people shows us a money management pattern of providing a place to gather for worship, scripture study and caring for the poor, being generous to those set apart to lead the congregation, and in being generous—especially to the suffering church. Economic resources are managed with these purposes in mind.
Tithing as a minimum baseline is one of the principles on which financial giving in this “first fruits” system is based, as the program explains:
[Tithing is] a starting point for proportionally giving one's first and best. For those observing the law of Moses, a tithe referred to a ten‐percent portion of the harvest, or the income produced if a harvest was sold. Presentation of the tithe took place at the temple as an act of worship. As Western society shifted from an agricultural to a monetary economy, many Christian traditions carried forward the expectation of the tithe as ten percent of gross household income, again as a gift to be presented in worship, usually through the local congregation. However, many remain unaware the Hebrews presented a tithe twice and sometimes three times in a year. The instruction of Jesus is that tithing must be done in conjunction with a deep concern for justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23) or it becomes meaningless. Thus, the concept of firstfruits living, as defined above, is more solidly aligned with Jesus' instruction than the tithe alone. For those seeking to enforce the tithe, or seeking to abandon it, ten percent of income is the limit of stewardship responsibility. A firstfruits lifestyle, however, finds it is only the beginning.
The “Church Covenant” of Missionary Baptist churches states that, in response to God's love and salvation, “We engage therefore, by the aid of the (p.221) Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrine; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.”
The Moravian Church in North America
Moravians have stood for certain basic religious principles for more than 500 years, during which it has often put into written form the precepts of its faith and practice. Today that written document is known as the “The Moravian Covenant for Christian Living.” In its sections on “Stewardship” and “Love for All,” the Moravian Covenant declares:
We deem it a sacred responsibility and genuine opportunity to be faithful stewards of all God has entrusted to us: our time, our talents, our financial resources…. We will support, according to our ability, the financial needs of the local congregation, the District, the Province, and the Unity. We will consider the support of benevolent causes of the Moravian Church, both at home and abroad, as a privilege, and opportunity, and a responsibility. We will also recognize the support of worthy causes outside of the Church as part of our stewardship…. Together with the universal Christian Church, we have a concern for this world, opening our heart and hand to our neighbors with the message of the love of God, and being ever ready to minister of our substance to their necessities.
Documents offered on the Moravian Church Web site recommend—and in some cases call for requiring—proportionate giving and tithing of members. For one example, a record of “Legislation Passed by Our Eastern District Synod of 2004” states as a resolution that “The Synod will encourage member requirements to be developed by each congregation to include … financially supporting the ministry of the church toward the goal of tithing.”
National Association of Free Will Baptists
The “Church Covenant” of this Baptist Association includes the statement, “We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together for church conferences, public worship, and the observance of the ordinances of the Gospel; (p.222) nor fail to pay according to our ability for the support of the church, of its poor, and all its benevolent work.”
National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.
The NBCA's “Doctrinal Statement” includes the following teaching about “Stewardship” as a means for “Carrying Out the Mandate of the Master” under its “Baptist Belief and Proclamation”: “Mankind is the steward of another's possessions. Any true sense of stewardship begins with the irrefutable fact that all things belong to God. The Eternal holds mankind responsible for time, talent, and treasure, both in the possession and the use of them…. The truth is that all things belong to God means that all should be used for His glory. Baptists believe that a proper sense of stewardship begins with the ‘tithe’; a presentation of that which belongs to Him. ‘The tithe is the Lord's.’ We have not given as a result of presenting the tithe. Our giving begins with the offering [after we have tithed].” The “Mission Statement” of the NBCA states, “The National Baptist Convention of America shall serve to promote and support Christian education, Christian missions and church extension through the combined efforts of Baptist churches and organizations and shall seek to cause the gospel, as understood and practiced by our Baptist faith, to be spread throughout this nation and to the foreign nations. The National Baptist Convention shall seek to positively impact and influence the spiritual, educational, social, and economic conditions of all humankind.” The NBCA organizes its financial giving through a denomination‐wide “Covenant Action Plan” or CAP, which is a systematic method of financing the objectives of the NBCA, including its outreach ministries. The CAP represents a financial commitment between NBCA and its member churches to pledge and honor that pledge systematically by one of two methods. The CAP plan calls for each member church, association, state convention, or any other affiliate group or person to make monthly contributions or contribute at the three annual meetings based upon their committed ability to give.
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
This Reformed denomination that holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches this in its Book of Church Order:
The bringing of offerings into God's house is a solemn act of thanksgiving to almighty God. In order that the receiving of the offering may stand out as a specific act of worship it is well that the minister (p.223) either precede or immediately follow it with a brief prayer, invoking the blessing of God upon the offering and devoting it to his service. It is the duty of the minister to cultivate the grace of liberal giving in the members of the church by reminding them of the scriptural admonition that every one should give as the Lord has prospered him, of the assurance of Scripture that God loves a cheerful giver, and of the blessed example of the Lord Jesus Christ who, though he was rich, became poor in order that poor sinners through his poverty might become rich. The session shall take care that the offerings of the congregation are used only for the maintenance of public worship, the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, and other Christian objects.
Moreover, the Westminster Larger Catechism embraced by the OPC teaches in answer to the question (Number 147), “What are the duties required in the tenth commandment?” that “The duties required in the tenth commandment are, such a full contentment with our own condition, and such a charitable frame of the whole soul toward our neighbor, as that all our inward motions and affections touching him, tend unto, and further all that good which is his.”
Pentecostal Church of God
The Doctrinal Statement (Article Three, 2004 Pentecostal Church of God Constitution and Bylaws) of this denomination states: “We recognize the scriptural duty of all our people, as well as ministers, to pay tithes as unto the Lord. Tithes should be used for the support of the active ministry and for the propagation of the Gospel and the work of the Lord in general.”
Presbyterian Church in America
This Reformed, evangelical denomination defines stewardship in terms of tithing on its denominational Web site:
As we think about stewardship it is imperative that we acknowledge the sovereignty of God and that we are called to be servants and stewards of all that he gives to our charge. Psalms 24:1 “The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” As those who are redeemed and adopted into His family we should rejoice in our relationship and also our stewardship. As our days are numbered according to Psalm 139:16, so we are encouraged to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12. This underscores (p.224) stewardship of our time. As the Holy Spirit has gifted each believer in the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:7 ff.) so “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others …” (I Pet. 4:10). This underscores stewardship of our gifts. Finally, the stewardship of our finances begins with the tithe in Deuteronomy 14:22 to the Lord's approval in Matthew 23:23, and Luke 11:42, but it goes beyond as so much of the Lord's teaching and that of Paul's emphasizes the dangers of money and riches. To the rich, Paul tells Timothy, to command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share (II Timothy 6:18).
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.
The 213th General Assembly (2001) of the PCUSA approved a new statement of stewardship theology, a first new statement for the denomination in nearly twenty years, reflecting the most recent available understandings it has of biblical and theological stewardship. The denomination describes it as “a foundational piece.” Included in the statement are the following teachings, which stress tithing and practices of sacrifice and obedience in the proper management of the possessions that God has entrusted to his people:
Tangible biblical concepts and images abound that teach us the life of the steward. Among those concepts are tithing and jubilee. References to tithing occur throughout the Old Testament (from Genesis 14:20 to Malachi 3:10). While Scripture affirms that the tithe belongs to God, we diminish the concept of tithing if we confine our discussions only to matters of obligation, calculation, or method. We can fall into the error of thinking that everything is ours. Nothing could be further from the truth. The tithe is not given to us as a formula. Rather, disciplined and proportionate giving is a regular reminder and a very concrete symbol that the whole belongs to God…. Jubilee does not devalue the material, but teaches that our possessions and relations must be restored to their proper places…. Jubilee frees us from the myth that we are defined by what we own. It tells us that we belong to God—in life and in death…. Christian practices shape that participation and help us learn to live the Christian life the same way we learn other skills—by practicing it. As we participate in various disciplines, space opens up in our lives for the Holy Spirit to transform our ways of thinking and behaving…. We need to become living sacrifices in response to and for the sake of (p.225) the gospel. The discipline of obedience enables us to understand that neither we nor our resources belong to ourselves. We are not just managing surpluses for the good of humanity. We understand that all resources are God's and that they are to be used for God's purposes. And with this discipline, we come full circle for in obedience we gain discernment.
Reformed Church of America (RCA)
The RCA Commission on Theology met in Chicago on February 2–5, 2005 and issued a statement that included a reflection on stewardship that included this passage:
How can we individually and communally—in our homes, churches, camps, workplaces—resist the rushing current that is our materialistic culture and its siren song of success while cultivating and putting into practice a more faith‐filled way of life? Here are… simple strategies: 1. Say no. Don't buy the latest, fastest, biggest. Live simply. 2. Tithe. Give a percentage of your income away—to your church, to Bread for the World, to Church World Service, to missionaries, to the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Seventh‐Day Adventist Church
Seventh‐day Adventists “accept the Bible as their only creed” and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth in a document, “Fundamental Beliefs,” constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. In Section 21 on “Stewardship,” the church teaches the following:
We are God's stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use. We acknowledge God's ownership by faithful service to Him and our fellow men, and by returning tithes and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His church. Stewardship is a privilege given to us by God for nurture in love and the victory over selfishness and covetousness. The steward rejoices in the blessings that come to others as a result of his faithfulness.
The Tithe. In recognition of the Bible plan and the solemn privilege and responsibility that rest upon church members as children of God and members of His body, the church, all are encouraged to return a faithful tithe (one tenth of their increase or personal income) into the denomination's treasury…. Thus the local conference/mission/field, the union, and the General Conference are provided with funds with which to support the workers employed and to meet the expense of conducting the work of God in their respective spheres of responsibility and activity. In addition to remitting to the union ten percent of their tithe income, local conferences/missions/fields also remit through the union to the General Conference, or its divisions, an additional percentage of their tithe as determined by the General Conference Executive Committee or division committee for the financing of the church's program. These policies have been developed for the gathering and disbursing of funds in all the world and for the conducting of the business affairs of the cause. The financial and business aspects of the work are of great importance. They cannot be separated from the proclamation of the message of salvation; they are indeed an integral part of it…. The tithe is holy unto the Lord, and is God's provision for the support of His ministry. Freewill offerings are also part of God's plan for the support of His work throughout the world.
Southern Baptist Convention
The common teachings of this largest of Protestant denominations in the United States are found in “The Baptist Faith and Message,” most recently revised and adopted on June 14, 2000. This summary of faith teaches regular, systematic, proportionate, and liberal financial giving in its Section XIII on “Stewardship:”
God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.
The UCC maintains a strong emphasis on generous financial giving, with tithing as the goal. One denominationally designed bulletin insert with the title, “How Much Should I Give?” answers its own question by saying, “The United Church of Christ stresses giving in a deliberately chosen percentage of income to support God's mission among people everywhere. Our church urges us to set at least 10% of income as our giving goal and suggests that we move toward that goal by giving an additional 1% of our income each year.” Also, a key denominational resource on “Financing” for new church startups states this on “Teaching Tithing”:
To speak of tithing, giving back to God at least ten percent of one's riches, is an effective way to set a high expectation of spiritual generosity for a new congregation. A tithing church is a generous church, and a generous church will thrive and grow. When we tithe we place God as our first priority. We trust in God's abundance instead of worrying about not having enough. Tithing churches live out of a vision of abundance rather than a mentality of scarcity.
The UCC has instituted a number of denominational programs to encourage generous giving. For example, “Covenant Keeper” churches represent about 17 percent of all UCC congregations that support the denomination's “Our Church's Wider Mission” (OCWM) by giving more than 10% of their operating budget to OCWM Basic Support. In addition, the UCC has organized a “StillspeakingMoney®” program of automated giving designed to make it easy for members to give. StillspeakingMoney® automatically deducts givers' gifts from their checking, savings, debit or credit card account on one or more dates each month. In these and many other ways, the UCC clearly communicates the importance of financial giving.
United Methodist Church
This second largest Protestant denomination in the United States explicitly teaches tithing, the giving of 10 percent of income, as a minimum as its most recent official church position. The 2004 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, for instance, states that each annual conference, as part of its responsibilities in the area of stewardship, is to “educate the local church that tithing is the minimum goal of giving in The United Methodist Church.” Furthermore, the 2004 Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, in a statement on tithing, says, “the 2000 General Conference adopts as a high priority for the next eight years a program for teaching and preaching for (p.228) spiritual growth in giving, with an emphasis of setting tithing as a goal for every person in The United Methodist Church.”
Teachings of the Wesleyans on financial giving are published in the denomination's document, “Who Are the Wesleyans?” which teaches the following under the section Our Beliefs: “Those admitted to Covenant Membership in our churches commit themselves to demonstrate their life in Christ in such ways as … exercis[ing] faithful stewardship through the wise use of their time and material resources, practicing careful self‐discipline in order to further the mission of Christ's church (remembering the principle of tithing which is basic to the New Testament standard of stewardship) and to demonstrate compassion to those in need.” The same section also speaks of this commitment “toward others,” “To do good as much as is possible to all people as God gives opportunity, especially to those in the body of Christ; by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the destitute, by visiting or helping those who are sick or in prison; by instructing, correcting or encouraging them in love.” In another section on “Christian Stewardship,” the reader finds this instruction:
The Scriptures teach that God is the owner of all persons and all things, that people are His stewards of both life and possessions, that God's ownership and one's stewardship ought to be acknowledged, and that every person shall be held personally accountable to God for the exercise of their stewardship. God, as a God of system and order in all of His ways, has established a system of giving which acknowledges His ownership and mankind's stewardship. To this end all His children should faithfully tithe and present offerings for the support of the gospel. Storehouse tithing is a scriptural and practical performance of faithfully and regularly placing the tithe into that church to which the member belongs. Therefore, the financing of the church shall be based on the plan of storehouse tithing, and The Wesleyan Church shall be regarded by all its people as the storehouse. All who are a part of The Wesleyan Church are urged to contribute faithfully one‐tenth of all their increase as a minimum financial obligation to the Lord and freewill offerings in addition as God has prospered them.
In a separate “Christian Stewardship” section under “Contemporary Issues,” the denomination's basic beliefs document teaches this on “Sharing Our Wealth”:
In a broad sense each man's wealth consists of time, health, and such resources as food, energy, income, and accumulated possessions. It follows (p.229) from the basic premise of stewardship that the Christian should use earth's wealth “for the glory of God.” The Christian must love God, not the world, and should share his possessions rather than to hold them selfishly. Sharing possessions is important in fulfilling obligations to God, to family, to government, and to societal needs. Christian sharing should be voluntary, motivated by compassion, and administered with justice.
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
The WELS's Web site page on “Financial Stewardship” states that “Stewardship is part of a Christian's life of sanctification, which includes everything he or she does in grateful response to God's grace and mercy in Christ. It fits in with such activities as worship, prayer, charity and evangelism. It is obvious that God has blessed us richly! Therefore let us generously return a portion of our blessings to Him.” Denominational resolutions call for faithful stewardship in financial giving, including one in 2005 stating that “We encourage every individual and congregation of the WELS to excel in the grace of Christian giving.” The WELS's 2005–06 Stewardship Program, “Every Soul's a Treasure,” teaches members the following:
Practice first fruits giving. Giving first to the Lord before spending on other things expresses my honor to God … by giving him the “best” rather than the leftovers…. When we give our first fruits to the Lord, everything else in life follows suit. Practice proportionately generous (%) giving based on your own income and blessings (rather than a comparison with an amount someone else gave). Generosity in giving ought to be the gauge rather than some imposed law or rule. A percentage of the way the Lord has blessed you becomes a guide. (Realize the basis for Old Testament giving started with the tithe = 10%. What should that say to us today?)…. Live not as owners but as stewards (managers) of God's possessions. Our giving recognizes that God, the Creator, is also the owner of everything and we are the stewards or caretakers of those gifts for his glory. Stewardship plays a large role in refining our character and releasing us from selfishness and greed and serves as a witness to the world that all life and wealth comes from God to be invested for his eternal purposes. Follow planned, regular giving. Faithfully save up “on the first day of every week” for a well thought‐out gift rather than sporadic, haphazard offerings. Regular consistent offerings acknowledge the regular (p.230) consistent ministry activity that accomplishes our mission…. Test the Lord's Promises with Bold Faith. This is about stepping out in faith in the Lord who can do the impossible. He creates in us both the willingness and the ability to carry out his will. If our lives test his promises with trusting generosity, he will open unexpected floodgates of blessings in unexpected ways. [Bold highlights in the original.]
The WELS Web site elsewhere teaches the following:
Tithing (giving 10%) was the starting point for giving in the Old Testament, not an upper limit or even a recommendation. For the Old Testament people the tithe was a minimum command. No such law is given to us in the New Testament. It would be a good custom to use a tithe also as a starting point for us today. It would be a sad reflection on us if we, who have so many more blessings than most of the Old Testament people both spiritually and materially, are satisfied with giving less than their minimum. Our freedom from laws of giving is an encouragement to do more, not an incentive to do less…. The Old Testament tithe is [not] useless to us. God's basic message with the tithe was not “give me!” but “trust me!” God was asking his people to believe that he who had blessed them with their money and goods would not fail to continue to bless them. It was a step of faith to take a generous portion of their first and best and give that to God. Giving the tithe was first and foremost not a financial transaction, but a statement of confidence in the continuing goodness of God. Even though the command of the tithe is gone, the lesson to learn remains the same. By taking a percentage, a proportion, of the first and best he gives to us, God is asking us to trust in his continued merciful goodness to us.
Worldwide Church of God
This denomination's published “Statement of Financial Stewardship” maintains, “The church teaches that Christians have a spiritual duty to financially support their church and encourages each member to give as he or she is able and has been blessed by God. Thus, most but not all of our revenue is raised from our church members and is solicited, if at all, from verbal or written appeals in accordance with our doctrines. The practice of tithing, while not mandated, is encouraged as a good standard of Christian financial stewardship.”