Christian monetary giving enables the church to live out its identity as the Body of Christ, and it enables the members of the Body to live out the ministry that each member is called to by God. It isn’t about paying dues or supporting a budget, but rather, Christian monetary giving is about helping the members of the Body of Christ live out their calling to do Christian ministry inside the congregation and outside in the community.
A great reflection summarizing on Christian giving can be found in the book “New Consecration Sunday” by Herb Miller:
My biblical and theological beliefs are foundational to my convictions about Christian giving. Three of these theological convictions are especially important. First, I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe that Christ has the greatest potential to change the lives of people of anything they can take hold of. Second, I believe in the church. I believe the church is the Body of Christ and has tremendous potential for changing and improving and enriching people’s lives. Third, I believe in stewardship. Financial giving enables a church to do what God calls it to do to help people and serve Christ, and financial stewardship helps individual Christians to grow spiritually… In so many ways, it is a marvelous opportunity for each of us to grow spiritually and by so doing help to grow God’s ministries in our congregation and community.
Since at least 1982 the Episcopal Church has stated that tithing is the “minimum standard of giving” for Episcopalians.
The article below explains and discusses tithing. It is a reflection by David E. Sumner, Diocese of Southern Ohio, following the 1982 General Convention of the Episcopal Church and was printed in the Episcopal News Service.
The 67th General Convention passed a resolution affirming the tithe to be the “minimum standard” of giving for Episcopalians, with the deputies and bishops pledging themselves to tithe, or work toward it, and urging all Episcopalians to follow them.
The Convention action is not a mandate or rule, and it is not meant to send anyone on guilt trips. It simply recognizes the tithe as the biblical standard for giving and upholds this as a standard for a’1 Episcopalians to work towards. This was the first such action by a General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
What is the tithe? Basically, it has always been defined as a tenth, or 10 percent, of one’s income. Tithe, tithes, or tithing, are mentioned 39 times in the Bible, 32 in the Old Testament and 7 in the New Testament. While the tithe has clear biblical precedent, it raises some common questions amongst most modern Christians.
Is it after taxes or before taxes? Christians do not have a consensus on this matter, and it is generally left to be a matter of one’s conscience. Those who do practice the “gross tithe” generally do so on the basis of discipline and dedication, and do not uphold it as necessary for everyone. In the era in which the Bible supported tithing, we did not have the plethora of taxes and deductions that most people have today. One’s gross income and net income were probably nearly the same at that time.
What the Bible does teach clearly is that giving should be of the “firstfruits” of one’s labors. Translated into today’s terms, it means the check for giving, whatever the amount, should be written before the other bills are paid, and not after. The concept of giving of the “first-fruits” of one’s work is mentioned in roughly twenty passages of scripture.
Christian stewardship leaders generally urge that those who wish to begin tithing, unless usually able, begin with a lower percentage of net or gross income, and work towards the tithe over a defined period of time. Thus, one might say, “I will give 3% now, but work towards 10% by the end of 1983.” The practice and discipline of regular giving is more important than the amount itself.
Must all of one’s giving go to the local church or can some go to other Christian ministries? Again, this is a matter of discretion or conscience. The majority of those who tithe probably give some to other Christian concerns. For those who give the entire tithe to a local church, it is again generally a matter of discipline and dedication and not a recognized standard.
Does tithing bring “practical rewards”? While many emphasize that God brings “prosperity” and immediate rewards to those who tithe, this is not a biblical teaching. If one enters into tithing for this reason, it will probably not happen. Most people who tithe feel that they do not go lacking in any physical necessities and that over the long run (of perhaps years), it does bring greater financial stability.
Jesus never commanded tithing, though he repeatedly upheld the teachings of the Old Testament. His specific words on the matter were harsh ones directed towards the Pharisees and hypocrites who saw it only as an external matter. This suggests it is not to be taken as a “rule” to be obeyed, but as a voluntary response of love and gratitude towards God.
Presiding Bishop John Allin stated in Ten Who Tithe, “I can add to the testimony of others who tithe my own testimony, arising out of the experience of whose (40) years. When offered in thanksgiving, tithing continues to be an affordable, affirming, and reassuring experience of and in the faith that is gracious and the Grace that is faithful.”