OK to use tithe for Christian school tuition?

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Crown Financial Ministries says that "when we take a portion of our tithe and divert it to keep our children in Christian schools, it's really a gift in self-interest. Educational costs are your normal responsibility. Therefore, if God wants your children to attend private school, He will provide the funds without your having to divert His tithe for that purpose." Do you agree?
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Participant

I agree completely. I have always felt that way and it disturbed me greatly when church members would say they tithing currently goes to Christian school but will change when their kids are out. I'm not sure why people think that Christian school is the extension of the church's ministry, because it is not. As a church we may support the school as important for a healthy world and life view in our child's education, but it is not meant to replace the teaching ministry of the church or the home.

Along with this, I think Christian schools should stop using curriculum meant for the church as part of their teaching curriculum, especially in religion and Bible classes. This was a thorn in my flesh when I was a youth pastor. It is not the schools responsibility to do the church's job.

Allen,

Your reasoning sounds exactly right to me. We have to make distinctions between the (institutional) church's work and the work of other institutions, whether we are talking about our financial support of or our work in those institutions. The same goes for the school confusing its role with the role of parents and so on. Society may be a messy place where the school or the church or the family or the food pantry or the whatever may fail to do its job well, but having other institutions try to fill that void by adding more tasks to their plates is not a good long-term solution.

So, we agree that a family shouldn't replace their support of the institutional church with their support of the school. However, is it okay to think of tithing as the charitable support of the kingdom (church, school, and other charities), rather than just charitable support of the institutional church? If tithing is the charitable support of the kingdom, then it would be everybody's obligation always to support church, school, and other charities to the best of their ability.

What if I use my tithe for someone else's tuition...a family member or friend's?

Participant

That's a very good question, Mike.

I tend to agree with the Crown folks. However, I have no idea how I will be able to stick to 10% of my take-home pay for tithe and still send my kids to Christian school. I guess I'll find out next year and the following. Maybe I will see how The LORD provides.

Community Builder

I'd like to propose a slightly different approach to the matter for a couple of reasons here:

  • First, we need to remember that the tithe was, in biblical times, given to the local "church", and that part of Israel's infrastructure as a theocracy was that the church would provide for the education of the children to some degree. Thus, when children went to school, that schooling was "paid for" by the tithe (at least in part).
  • Second, and I'm sure you all know this so I don't really need to say it again, but the tithe was only one portion of the giving that Israelites were expected to do. They had all kinds of other offerings that they were to give. So the whole terminology of the tithe is, in old testament terms, somewhat misleading.
  • Third, Old Testament tithes and offerings were not just financial, of course, people gave of what they produced--mostly crops because Israel was an agricultural society.
  • Fourth, Jesus really seems to up the ante with giving in the New Testament--beyond Old Testament tithing and beyond all the other offerings too. Remember, of course, how Jesus interacts with the disciples about the old woman giving at the temple and the rich young ruler, and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.
  • Fifth, add in the good Kuiperyian (sp?) reminder of the biblical truth of Jesus' sovereignty over all things and you're led (IMHO) to the following conclusions...(and I raise them partly to see what people's responses will be)
  1. We should be teach (and practice) that none of the money or resources that we have are ours--all of it belongs to God.
  2. We should teach (and practice) that Jesus doesn't give hard and fast rules about how much people should give, rather he teaches that more is better--more giving is better (as a general rule and as long as the motivations are right).
  3. We should teach that strictly giving financially to the church is not an option either--that the Bible teaches that giving of whatever you produce is the rule--not just the money you get. Giving back to God what is His in terms of talents and time are part of a proper picture of giving.
  4. And we should teach that if people need a guideline to start with then they should wrestle with God over the idea of giving 10% back to him, but that that is only the beginning of their journey of stewardship.

In other words, I don't think we should make the issue too easy for people. We should challenge ourselves to wrestle with God on this one--What does God want me to give at this time, and in this place? Jesus doesn't make these issues easy for anyone, but instead constantly challenged people to be more faithful, and more giving and more loving.

What do you think, folks?

Dan.

Dan, I like the direction of your comments very much. I have always liked the phrase that " the tithe is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop". My sense is that many Christians have gotten too caught up in the mathematical calculation and missed the point of giving back to God. Many people can and should give significantly more than a tithe.

I also think that most families go through various financial stages in their life when the cost of raising children (including Christian Education) is significant and the ability to give may be reduced for a time. There are then other times when families can give significantly more than a tithe financially. This could also probably be applied to giving of our time.

I enjoy the discussion!

Community Builder

Thanks for the encouragement, Henry. You raise a good point about the other times when our families' ability to give is severely reduced. I really think that this is a matter we need to be constantly challenging ourselves on and that the ultimate decision is a faith one--faith in dialogue with God who guides us leading us to a true sacrificial giving that is still ultimately stewardly.

Anyway, I enjoy the discussion too. Blessings, all!

I think that too often we get caught up in this 10% God's/90% ours mentality. A quote I heard at a CSA Conference went like this: "God not only owns the cattle on 1000 hills, he also owns the hills!" The reality is that everything we have belongs to God, and he wants us to stewardly use the resources he's blessed us with 100%. Growing our generosity not only builds the Kingdom externally, it builds up the giver spiritually in an exponential way. Families go through times of struggle financially where Christian education can become a challenge for them, especially when their kids are in those formative years. Still, the steward who focuses on investing God's abundance will continue sacrificial giving as a lifetime lifestyle commitment, so let's not play the "numbers game".

Community Builder

Tithing has always been a difficult concept for me to be at peace with - for many reasons, most of which turn up in the discussion here. I really like how this discussion is shaping up, the themes of communal caring, taking seriously the different phases and passages in a family's life, and stressing the joy of giving instead of the % guidelines. I wish that my family had modeled for me a way to think about generosity that was NOT shaped by our constraints and our needs, but rather by Spirit shaped generosity. My parents were mostly worried about how to make ends meet, but the "tithe envelope" in the drawer in the dining room was always attended to first. More problematic was the attitude of scarcity that pervaded our house and my own attitude toward generosity. The envelope was a great example. The feeling and attitude of scarcity not so much. It has taken me a lot of years to get beyond that, and I'm still working on it. Thanks to all of you who shared wisdom here!

I can't believe we haven't heard the word "covenant" mentioned in this discussion.  A value word from our Reformed heritage.  Churches using the Kuyers or Covenant Plan to support Christian education base their action on covenant keeping.  I would like to hear something from those churches in this discussion.  Where are you?

I would like to encourage parents to send their children to a Christian School even if donations to church would be less on account of these high expenses. For those who have lots of the world's goods, I have problems with limiting their contribution to 10%.

I don't understand why people become obsessed with tithing. I give 10 per cent and then some but I despise tithing. Why? I know some people who have left the church out of guilt from not being able to afford it. Then I look at the weak theological reasoning as to why tithing is expected and see the spiritual abuse that goes on by the misuse of Scriptures such as Malachi 3. The fact that some of you are querying whether school fees count show what a legalistic ritual tithing has become. A study of the NT and Early Church right up to the start of the 20th Century shows tithing as not part of the sacraments with Paul making it clear that each should purpose in their heart what to give and God loves a cheerful giver. When people are pressured or oppressed onto giving money they can't afford the Church has shamefully committed spiritual a use. I  ashamed of times where I have told my church that if you aren't giving 10% you ate lacking faith or being selfish. I repent of my sin and pray people will be freed on Jesus' name. Amen!

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