Can My Church Tithe Be Given in Part as Gifts or Time Instead of Money?

Question from a reader:

I have a question about your thoughts on tithing to the church. Let's say for example, that my tithe is $200. Is it wrong to write a check for $100 and then purchase $100 worth of materials or gifts that I believe the church could benefit from? Or give $100 worth of my time for church projects or ministry Our family is not able to go beyond the tithe just yet. Do you find anything glaringly wrong with this?

Answer from Karen Coleman, EPM Ministry Assistant:

This is a great question, and obviously shows that you want to do the right thing in obedience to God. 

Randy believes the whole tithe belongs to God, according to Malachi 3:8-10. Even people in positions of leadership in the church do not have the option of holding back part of their tithe to buy materials for the church.  God asks that each of us “test Me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." By designating some of your tithe money by your own choice, it seems that is not giving full control over to God. He may (or may not) surprise you with His blessings in unexpected ways. But you will still have the blessing of knowing you were obedient.  And God will honor that!

A rare exception to this might occur in agrarian developing countries where some people don’t earn or trade money, and so they may bring crops or livestock to make up their tithe. I’ve seen this in the church in Africa where I worked for many years. This is very different from keeping back part of the tithe and then deciding to give it in a different form, like time or a donation to the church pantry.

Randy sums up the matter in his book Money, Possessions and Eternity: “When the early Christians sold their land and houses, they ‘brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need’ (Acts 4:34-35). They didn’t discern on their own where the funds should go. They entrusted themto spiritually qualified church leaders, who distributed them wisely.” (p. 245)

Karen Coleman is a ministry assistant at Eternal Perspective Ministries. She spent 23 years in Cameroon, West Africa involved in Bible translation and missionary care. Before going to Africa and before EPM began, she served as Randy’s assistant when he was a pastor.

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