Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My "Tithe" is Not Watered Down By Some Church Board

I have always been a ten percent tithes. I was loyal, religious, and strictly "biblical". I directed ten percent of my gross earnings to my local church believing and preaching that this was not only where God wanted it to be given but how the money would be distributed in a way that would honor God the most.  I had pastor friends who questioned why I would tithe to the sane organization that paid me and as economically weird as it may have been, I believed it was the way God's financial design was to work.

Even when I hit financial crisis, I found a way to keep from "robbing from God", believing that God should not be penalized for my bad decisions. And while I had no problem with a "New Testament" interpretation of tithing which conveniently suggested that a believer didn't have to tithe 10 percent since everything belonged to God, I rarely if ever found a believer in this interpretation to give more than 10 percent if they gave that much!

Then, after a lifetime of church attendance and involvement at both personal and professional levels, I left. But I didn't quit giving money for God's purposes. I simply changed the direction in which I gave it. I never gave my money because I was part of the religious organization now called "church" but because I both loved God and felt it was my duty to tithe. That didn't not change when I left the institution since it is spawned at the level of faith, not works.

Since leaving the church as it exists today in America, I have had to come to the difficult conclusion that the money I gave for God is sadly disseminated in a variety of ways that are decided by relatively prayer less boards and committees and that the lion's share (Lion?) went to administrative expenses- including, of course, my salary. In fact, churches rarely make the most "worthy" line item- missions- even 10 percent of their own budget. And the membership lets this happen in most cases, or they go to a competitor who after looking at there books, decide this is where they want their hard earned pittance to go.

My current benevolence is now more directly and completely going to people and causes that I hope are honoring God in their work. I still give more than the biblical "tithe" but I isn't being filtered thorough administrators or trapped in institutional needs. The ten percent I gave back ended up being watered down to a far smaller percentage once the organization got its share.

I now believe that God is rarely honored by how churches create and spend their budgets- even though every pastor has to believe and declare that their church budget DOES bring God glory (as well as feeds their family). I know this because I was one of those pastors.

I am glad to honor God with unfiltered money. I don't have to compare spreadsheets between competing religious businesses to see whose salary I'd rather support or which missions organizations a committee has determined are the best ones for their congregation to get behind.

All of me and my money belong to God- not the current version of American Church.

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