How your local church handles the money given to it through tithes and offerings may seem like an area where you have little to no say, especially if you are not part of the church’s leadership. If you disagree with how your church handles its finances, this may leave you wondering if you should instead use the only method that seems available: withholding your tithes and finding a better outlet for your financial gifts. While you are the final decision-maker for where your tithe is given, there are a few items that should be considered before making such an impactful financial decision.
- Who owns your finances? The first step in deciding where to give your tithe should be to determine who you believe is the ultimate authority for your finances. The Bible has numerous passages such as Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10, 1 Chronicles 29:12-16, and more that reiterate the fact that everything—including our money—is God’s. With this in mind, you should remember that God should be the final decision-maker as to where you give your tithe, and you should follow His leading rather than simply basing it on whether you agree with everything that is being done with it. As soon as it leaves your bank account, trust that God is in control of it.
- No church is perfect. There are definitely churches and organizations that abuse finances, but be careful to judge too quickly. Consider the financial mistakes you have made in your past. Remember that those deciding what to do with the tithe are human just like you and will make mistakes. Now if your church truly is abusing finances, there are steps that can be taken to correct this. Talk with your leaders and your pastor to see if they are aware. You can also contact your local conference to make them aware of this issue.
- How will your decision impact your church? If you plan to continue attending the church that you are no longer giving tithe to, consider how it will impact your relationship with that church. Will it cause you to lose interest in being involved with the church? If you are outspoken about it, it could cause a divisiveness that is unhealthy within the church. Make sure to seriously consider all of the potential scenarios that could result from you taking a stand on your tithing.
- What are your actual intentions? Another aspect to seriously consider is exactly why you would be withholding the tithe. Is it because you truly have a moral disagreement with your church? Or is it because of a relationship that has soured, a disagreement over a minor doctrine or practice, or because of a one-time mistake by leadership?
- How will this decision impact you, your family, and your relationships? Your local church is often made up of close friends and family members. Will this decision cause some of those relationships to deteriorate? If it could cause this, you must ask yourself if it is really worth that level of emotional pain.
- Is there a better way to address your concerns? Have you tried to talk to leadership directly about your concerns? If not, this needs to be your first order of business. Instead of taking a passive aggressive approach, confront the issue head-on. This is often the most effective way of actually implementing change.
- Are you in the right church? Finally, if this is truly an issue for you and you have exhausted all other methods, you need to ask yourself if you are really in the church you should be in. If you really have such strong disagreements with your congregation, maybe you should find another place of worship. It is better to attend a church that you are glad to give to than to sit in a pew fuming week after week about everything you dislike about the church you attend.