Recently two discussion topics popped up in the Deacon's Forum. The first asked about whether part of our taxes could be considered tithing. The second springboarded off that and asked whether it was the percentage we gave or the money we spent. Tithing - money - giving - are topics under the stewardship umbrella that we don't often hear spoken about in our traditional church settings. Do you know how many times this topic is addressed in Scripture? Any guesses? 2350.
It seems that Scripture doesn't have any issue talking about money - so why do we? My best guesses are the following:
a) people have come to see the church as "money grabbing" always looking for more money, taking offerings and collections - so in an attempt to minimize that perception we (as the church) don't talk about money off the pulpit and we may try to hide our offering time somewhere in the service, if we take an offering during the service at all.
b) in our Western culture money has become highly privatized to the point we consider it "none of anyone else's business". Elders in their visits used to ask very direct tithing questions. I understand that is not the norm now. I imagine there would be some pretty upset congregational members if this did happen. In our consumer culture we view our money as just that - OURS. We do what we want, we spent it as we wish and we don't want anyone dictating parameters around these decisions.
As deacons we are called to promote stewardship, but stewardship is a complex topic - and discussions about money can get emotions running pretty high. That's probably why we focus our church stewardship topics on "the environment", "our time" or "our gifts". But for the next few weeks I'm going to be looking at the who, what, where, when, why and how of monetary stewardship - because tithing and giving are spiritual matters.
My goal in writing about this topic is to start the conversation. I'm not looking to give you a set of rules to follow - but rather, I want to provoke your own thinking about money and giving. I've asked many people their thoughts on this topic - and the results were surprisingly diverse. Some folks had very clear and defined opinions and practises. Others were more haphazard because they didn't know what to think.
As a church - this is not a topic to be silent on - so let's talk about it! What are your thoughts on financial stewardship? Do you have any questions about tithing - giving - money? If so, write them in a comment below or send me an e-mail because it's highly probable that you aren't the only one with that question and I want to discuss them!