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Collection PlateIt’s being reported that famed financial planner Dave Ramsey is telling pastors to stop asking their broke congregation to tithe. According to Ramsey, if pastors want to request their less financially stable congregants to tithe, they need to do two sermons, one on getting out of debt and one on budgeting. Ramsey opines that tithing will happen naturally when people are out of debt and on a budget, and that when people love Jesus, they give money when they have the funds to do so.

Why Listen to Dave Ramsey?

Ramsey is the creator of Financial Peace University, a biblically-based financial planning program designed to help people get out of debt, take control of their money and plan for the future. According to Ramsey’s website, thousands of people in all age ranger have worked the program and gotten their finances back on track. Ramsey himself knows a thing or two about debt, having lost everything in 1988. “Using God’s and grandma’s way” of handling money, he turned things around. Then, he began helping others. Today, he’s built an empire of tools and resources for people to take the steps towards financial freedom.

Interestingly, when you go through Ramsey’s website, he advises Christians who are following his plan to tithe. Yet, he does tell people that God won’t love them any less if they don’t tithe. He compares it to children who get different grades in school. You don’t love the child who gets a C less than the child who gets the A, right?

But the character of God is shown through generosity. Christians are at their best when they give to others. One of the blogs on Ramsey’s site asks, “Is it okay to put giving on hold when you’re throwing every extra dime at your debt?” The answer, “no.” The Bible has multiple verses about being blessed when you faithfully tithe, even in hard times. Ramsey suggests that when you get your paycheck, pay God _first_, then handle your necessities and bills with what remains.

Are Christians Required to Tithe?

Some Christians believe that tithing is an Old Testament commandment and it doesn’t apply to modern Christians. They believe that Jesus spoke about tithing before the dawn of the new covenant, and that Jesus’ death on the cross released Christians from the burden of the tithe. But others believe that the tithe goes beyond Old and New Testament covenants.

Irenaeus, a Greek cleric of the second-century church, had this to say:

“The Jews were constrained to a regular payment of Tithes; Christians who have liberty assign all their possessions to the Lord bestowing freely not the lesser portions of their property since they have the hope of greater things.”

The early church shared with everyone in need, instead of hoarding items and money. They saw their possession differently under Christ. The church didn’t need a commandment for giving. Belongings and land were sold and given to the apostles to distribute to those who had need.

The Billy Graham Evangelical Association suggests that Billy Graham was a strong tither who believed that the principle carried over to the New Testament. However, they do note that tithing should be a personal conviction, and should be between you and God. They note that giving shouldn’t be seen as a duty or burden, but a privilege.

Billy Graham pointed to Second Corinthians 9: 6-7 as proof: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

What’s a Pastor to Do?

No church can run without money, and certainly, most pastors hope that their congregants contribute a 10% tithe. While church leaders might hope for or request a tithe, many struggle with the feeling that talking about giving might make your congregation feel ashamed or guilty that they can’t or don’t tithe. For the record, it’s estimated that only about 10 to 25 percent of church congregants actually tithe to their church.

Ramsey has millions of supporters, but not everyone agrees with his advice. The Christian Post has an advice piece in which Crown Financial Ministries CEO Chuck Bentley recommends that Christians tithe, no matter what. He calls giving an act of worship that expresses our love to God. He qualifies his remarks by suggesting that no worldy possessions, including money, belong to us anyway-- they are all owned by God.

Tithing can be a hardship for families who are living paycheck to paycheck. Should the church be assertive in getting the congregation to tithe before they’re out of debt and on a budget?  Or is it time to rethink how the church approaches giving?

Category: Church

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