What are your thoughts on tithing when visiting another church? What about a sister church in the Presbytery? Are there normative or regulative principles involved?
Interesting and timely question. I was just thinking about this.
We just had some 15-30 extra adults visiting our church today (which is an enormous number for us), following a wedding held yesterday in which one of our young men was joined to a young woman from out of state. Most of these guests came from a fairly like-minded Baptist church out east, where the bride is from. Guests included most if not all of the elders from that church. The bride was the daughter of one of the elders. During our time of giving in worship, I noticed several of the visitors going forward to give (we have a basket up front, and people go up to give as we sing prior to the sermon).
I can’t answer your question from a Presbyterian context, but I have a few general thoughts which may be useful.
A major part of our giving in our home church has to do with meeting the practical, immediate needs of our own church body, such as the care of our of our pastor, urgent financial needs among the membership, and expenses relating to the normal ministry of the church. In addition, your church body may be pursuing ministry commitments beyond your own local church, like supporting a church plant, or giving to the needs of saints far away. For this reason, it’s fitting that the lion’s share of our giving would be retained for our home church.
However, it’s important to also keep in view that the act of giving itself is or ought to be understood as an act of the worship. We don’t just give during worship at church. Our giving is worship. While giving to the church is something we do regularly, it isn’t something as mundane as paying the water bill. We’re giving in thanksgiving to God for what he’s given us, with a prayerful heart that he would use our resources to further his kingdom and care for his people. For this reason, it seems fitting that one may be compelled to give something as an offering even when visiting a different church – provided there’s at least some level of confidence that the church we’re giving to are, in fact, brethren.
Good wisdom, Jason. You raise another point which has long been a conundrum in my former church: online giving. Reading what you wrote above made me think maybe the solution is to make a separation between tithes and offerings. Many of our African brothers do this traditionally, and so it is done in worship at the church Juergen Von Hagen serves in Germany (which is comprised of African immigrants, mostly).
So I wonder if the increasing proportion of people who wish to give online (Trinity was well over 50% when I resigned the call) should be asked to give only their tithes, online, but to reserve their offerings for physical presentation on the Lord’s Day? Love,
Once all of the COVID restrictions were relaxed, our church turned off the online giving option because we decided our members should physically present their offerings as part of the Lord’s Day worship.
As a practical matter, almost every church I visit is evidently not wealthy. I can easily help them for the week to support the man who taught me that Sunday, so I think I should do that.
Sounds good. Our online giving long preceded Covid.
While I certainly wouldn’t hold a dogmatic view here, I have appreciated that our elders have maintained the deliberate decision to refrain from opening up online giving. The essential reasoning, I believe, is just to try to maintain the sense that our giving is worship, and that it’s something we do both personally and corporately.
I think they’ve received some flak here and there over the years from a few folks who have tried to invoke Matthew 6:3-4 as the basis for creating an avenue to be able to give in secret, and I suppose there could be some merit there. But texts like 1 Cor. 16:1-2 and Acts 4:34-35 should also be considered. The pattern of the early church was to give together. In addition, if we’re to think of our giving as Christians to be analogous to the Old Covenant tithe, then it’s also worth considering that for Israel, the tithe was something that they were to bring to Jerusalem, to the temple, as worship (e.g. Deut. 14:22-27). You didn’t just send your tithe with someone else; you came and worshipped.
Some more food for thought.
I think it’s perfectly acceptable to tithe whatever church you’re attending that week, because ultimately we’re giving a tenth of our money to God, so the church it comes through really doesn’t matter, because God will make sure it gets where it needs to go
There is a sense in which, yes, God’s plan cannot be thwarted and He will make sure the money gets where it needs to go. But that does not erase our responsibility to take care of those we are particularly responsible to. And we who are members of a particular church with particular shepherds watching over us should not be too cavalier about diverting that support to anywhere and everywhere else if it is to the detriment of the support we give our own particular pastor, especially when we vowed to keep him free from worldly cares.
I’m not at all against extra generosity to churches we visit, though. (On vacation this summer, the church we visited the elderly usher skipped our family’s row during the offering - I think to be “nice to the visitors” - and I had to sneak back to a rear pew for another chance to put it in! - for how surreptitiously I accomplished this you’ll have to ask my wife or teenage daughter.) I’m just jealous to see us provide for the ones we’re particularly responsible for before God.