May I return tithe to other entities when I disagree with local leaders?

Questions & Answers June 30, 2017

Q: Is it biblical to give tithe to another organization rather than to the church? I know that some do, but I keep thinking that I’m to follow the Bible instructions and our conference and union leaders are responsible if they use the funds to promote error. — Anita, from the United States

A: Anita, I have received several questions on this topic and addressed a similar question earlier. You can read the answer here.

However, in addition to my previous answer, I would like to share with you an answer that former General Conference Stewardship Ministries director Erika Puni gave when someone asked about giving tithe directly to the world church headquarters. He wrote:

“I affirm you for your desire to do the right thing and return tithe to its rightful owner — God. I also thank you on behalf of the Adventist world church for your faithfulness in returning the Lord’s tithe in the past, thus enabling the church to do God’s work in the world. I recognize that the church is not perfect, and perhaps the decision its leaders take from time to time may not meet our personal expectations, but the church will continue to be God’s appointed agency for the saving of people for His soon return.

“I empathize with your disappointment but I would encourage you to continue to be faithful, and return tithe as you’ve always done when you said yes to Jesus. You know these Biblical principles, but I will restate them as a reminder to both of us:

  • Tithe belongs to God.
  • Tithe is an act of worship.
  • Stewards return tithe as an expression of their faithfulness to God, and it’s part of their relationship with Him.
  • Tithe is to be returned to God’s storehouse.

“Here’s a statement from Ellen White: ‘Some have been dissatisfied, and have said, “I will no longer pay my tithe; for I have no confidence in the way things are managed at the heart of the work.” But will you rob God because you think the management of the work is not right? Make your complaint, plainly and openly, in the right spirit, to the proper ones. Send in your petitions for things to be adjusted and set in order; but do not withdraw from the work of God, and prove unfaithful, because others are not doing right.’ (9T 249).”