Q: I thought that the church teaches that one important point of giving is that it’s voluntary and from the heart. That’s what my grandfather, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, taught. Why does the church force its employees to pay tithe as a condition of employment? — Tim, United States
A: Tim, the church does not force anyone to return tithe, or to give offerings. As a part of good biblical stewardship underscored by strong Spirit of Prophecy counsel, we follow the Bible teaching of returning to God a tithe (10 percent) of our increase. This is what God instituted, not the church.
God wants us to understand that we owe everything to Him, and we honor Him by obeying His request to return a tithe as a sign of our loyalty, love, and complete trust in Him.
We also, according to Scriptural instruction, give freewill offerings that are decided by the giver in accordance with blessings received and what the Lord impresses the person to give. We don’t designate what we want “our” tithe to go for. It is for the support of the ongoing evangelistic and pastoral activities of the church.
Generally, we encourage people to give up to another 10 percent (or whatever the person decides) in freewill offerings for running the local church (combined budget), world missions (world budget offerings), humanitarian needs, and other church needs.
In many parts of the world, there is one general offering that benefits the local church, world mission outreach, and other activities. In some places, the offerings are much more specific. In any case, all have the privilege to give in relation to what God impresses them.
Personally, my wife, Nancy, and I happily return our tithe and give another 10 percent for freewill offerings and other donations. We have found that the 80 percent left is worth more than the 100 percent to begin with. God just blesses and blesses beyond measure, and we praise Him for this. Isn’t that what Malachi 3 tells us?
Since employees of the church are to lift up and teach the truths and principles of the Bible and live out those truths in a practical manner, they are expected to joyfully return their tithe and give freewill offerings. And remember: No one is forced to work for the church.
In various parts of the world, tithe is deducted at the source of income. In the North American Division, the individual is expected to care for the tithe and freewill offerings. In many places of this division, it’s possible to remit tithe and offerings (which all goes through the local church) over the Internet. I’ve been doing that for a number of years, and it is so convenient.
Regardless of whether you return your tithe and offerings in an offering plate or through the Internet, it’s a wonderful blessing that I personally would never want to miss.
What a privilege to support the work of pastors and evangelism with the returning of the tithe. What a privilege to be part of a world system of evangelistic outreach as well as focusing on your local church outreach and mission projects. What a privilege to give systematically and not just when you feel like it or something impresses you. Certainly, we can give to special projects, but it is such a blessing to support the work of the church locally and globally.
God loves a cheerful giver rather than one who begrudges returning to God what belongs to Him. Why wouldn’t we, especially as church employees, be joyful about returning tithe to God and giving freewill offerings to support His work?
Leaders and all those who work for the church have an excellent opportunity (and responsibility) to set a good example of cheerful, faithful stewardship, not only in tithes and offerings but in all aspects of stewardship.
Stewardship is a vital part of the Christian experience and a sign of our strong connection with heaven showing others that God provides for those who honor and love Him. For more information, visit the General Conference Stewardship Ministries website: adventiststewardship.com.