Should Christians Give All of the Tithe to Local Church?

Christians often ask if they should give all of their tithe to the local church, or if they can give a portion of it to a ministry. To help find the answer, a Christian minister quotes preacher John Piper on his blog this weekend.

Chris Willard, director of generosity development at Leadership Network, takes up the issue of tithing on his personal blog, providing the transcript of a message by Piper, who served as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., for over three decades.

"There's no clear biblical mandate that your generosity has to be in a certain proportion to your church and to other ministries," Willard, who served with Campus Crusade for Christ for more than 25 years, quoted Piper as saying in a message on April 14, 2008.

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"As a pastor, if somebody came to me and said, 'I'd like to tithe. Where should I give it?' I would say, 'Well, I think it's a helpful rule of thumb to say that, considering that this is your family of believers with its own set of needs and that you benefit from the church and give your life to it, starting with a tithe here is a good idea. And from there you can give more here and more elsewhere,'" Piper said.

"But I would never say, 'You must give your tithe to this church.' I just don't find it in the Bible. I can't put biblical texts behind it," Piper added.

"When we think about what churches need in order to survive and flourish, I think they need, roughly, a tenth of what their people have, and more. You can feel free to go beyond.

"As for me, I give almost everything to the church. I feel so utterly indebted here and thankful here that what I give is almost all here. And then there are the little things I do. Little things at the door or for pro-life causes. I'm writing little checks here and there all the time. But the substance of my giving is at the local church."

"I would encourage someone to think through with a pastor what a good basis for giving at the church would be, and then encourage them to lavish everywhere else too," Piper concluded.

Many evangelical leaders believe tithing is not a biblical mandate, but generosity is, which often involves giving more than 10 percent of their income.

In a survey by the National Association of Evangelicals in April 2011, 58 percent of respondents, all members of the NAE board of directors, said they do not think giving 10 percent of one's income to the church is mandated by the Bible, while 42 percent do.

Many of the NAE leaders noted in their response that although tithing is an Old Testament legal model, New Testament Christians should give out of generosity. The overwhelming majority, 95 percent, of respondents said they give at least 10 percent.

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