When you hear the term tithing and donations at your church, what comes to mind? Are you automatically filled with anxiety just thinking about it? Do you start sweating thinking about all of the questions your congregation has about the subject? What is your understanding of tithing, offering, and donations?
Tithing and donations are unavoidable subjects at your church, but they are also misunderstood. It’s important to not only have a Biblical understanding of tithing and donations for your own personal spiritual walk, but also for the spiritual walks of your church members.
To help clear things up and make sure that talk of tithing and donations don’t automatically fill you with anxiety, we are going to answer the five most asked questions on tithing and donations.
1. What is a Tithe?
If you want to get technical, the dictionary defines tithe as “a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment”. While that definition is important, what the Bible says about tithing is even more important.
In the Bible, when Moses is giving the Israelites the law, he says, “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30). Here we see that a tithe is off of everything we earn and ultimately belongs to the Lord. He has given us all that we have, so tithing is a way for us to give a little back.
It’s also important to note that tithing and offering are often used in conjunction with each other, but they are actually two different things.
2. What is an Offering?
In the most basic sense, “offering” simply means a gift or contribution. When it comes to offerings in the church, people usually consider any amount that exceeds their tithe to be an offering. Offerings can be given to specific purposes like mission trips, building campaigns, or camp sponsorships, or can just be given above and beyond the tithe.
An offering is really about generosity. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 we read that, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
So, when thinking about tithes and offerings, think of a tithe as the dedicated amount you give back to God of everything you make, and an offering as anything else you give above that.
3. Why Should I Tithe?
You may be thinking that offerings, as well as tithings and donations, are all good in theory, but you may be questioning the practicality and the “why” behind it all.
Scripture is clear on this matter too:
- 1 Corinthians 10:26 - “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 - Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- Philippians 4:19 - And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
While there are many other verses about giving in the Bible, just looking at these two we see several answers to the question “why should I tithe”. We see:
- Everything is God’s in the first place. Because everything belongs to him and we are simply stewards, giving Him a percentage to use for His church makes sense.
- Tithing and donations aren’t forced by God. He has given us free will to give what we have decided in our hearts to give. The gifts we give back should be done so willingly and with a cheerful heart.
- God loves when we give cheerfully!
- When we give, God still promises to meet our needs. He knows us, he sees us, and he provides.
4. What All Should I Tithe On?
One of the most common questions about tithing and donations involves what exactly should people tithe on. Should they tithe on their gross or net income? What about side hustles?
While Scripture doesn’t specifically talk about this, it does talk about motivations and intent.
In Matthew 23:23 we see Jesus say, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Even though the Pharisees were tithing, they weren’t doing so out of a generous heart and love for the Lord. When you ask what should you tithe on, what is your motivation? Are you hoping to keep more for yourself or give more to the Lord?
5. How Can I Tithe?
This last question varies from church to church, but the more ways you can offer people to tithe, the better. A few common ways that people can tithe include:
- Passing the offering plate during your worship services.
- Accepting tithes and offerings in your church office during the week.
- Creating a “give” page on your church website (check out giving page best practices here).
- Offering text-to-give options, like Clover Give.
- Setting up giving kiosks around your church with multiple options.
According to Nonprofit Source tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation.
Remember, the easier you make it for people to give at your church, the more likely they will be to tithe. Many people like the ease of online giving, so offering it will give them a convenient way to give at your church.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tithing and donations at your church, but hopefully, it gives you a good start and alleviates any anxiety you may have. If you’re looking to improve giving at your church, consider integrating Clover Give into your Clover website. It's easy to setup, straightforward, and simple.