Should All of My Tithe Go to the Local Church?

I have a great deal of respect for John Piper, the prolific writer and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. And, it was a privilege to have his team participate in one of our Leadership Network Generous Churches Leadership Communities.

Here is his thoughtful take on whether all of a believer’s tithe should be given to the “storehouse”.

There’s no clear biblical mandate that your generosity has to be in a certain proportion to your church and to other ministries.

As a pastor, if somebody came to me and said, “I’d like to tithe. Where should I give it?” I would say, “Well, I think it’s a helpful rule of thumb to say that, considering that this is your family of believers with its own set of needs and that you benefit from the church and give your life to it, starting with a tithe here is a good idea. And from there you can give more here and more elsewhere.”

But I would never say, “You must give your tithe to this church.” I just don’t find it in the Bible. I can’t put biblical texts behind it.

When we think about what churches need in order to survive and flourish, I think they need, roughly, a tenth of what their people have, and more. You can feel free to go beyond.

As for me, I give almost everything to the church. I feel so utterly indebted here and thankful here that what I give is almost all here. And then there are the little things I do. Little things at the door or for Prolife causes. I’m writing little checks here and there all the time. But the substance of my giving is at the local church.

I would encourage someone to think through with a pastor what a good basis for giving at the church would be, and then encourage them to lavish everywhere else too.

Used with permission from a message by John Piper, given on April 14, 2008

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3 Responses to Should All of My Tithe Go to the Local Church?

  1. John M. Harris says:

    I would favor upholding the Biblical pattern of 10% of ones income for regular ongoing ministry (Numbers 18:21, 24) which today might be your church’s “general budget.” Then also 10% for worship services, worship facilities, and special holidays (Numbers 14:22-23) which would probably be the “worship budget” at your church. And finally 3.33% of your annual income (10% every 3 years) for the poor (Deut. 14:28-29) which might be a benevolence fund at church, a local food pantry, sponsoring a child/children, etc. I think it would be irresponsible to pay more to one of these areas while neglecting the others.

  2. Thanks for the comment, John. Wondering, do you know many people who follow the pattern you described?

  3. David Hand says:

    Thanks Chris. I appreciate Dr. Piper’s perspective too. So often I have such a small view of generosity relative to the “richness of His grace” ( God’s love is a tidal wave directed towards the undeserving. The more I come to terms with what Jesus did for me, the more I am so readily eager to give without hesitation and with a glad heart.
    I look forward to reading your book.

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