How Do Churches Utilise The Tithe Members Pay?
• ‘Many Out There Think That Churches Are Being Opened Indiscriminately Because Of Tithe’
• ‘If You Have A Large Congregation, Government Needs To Come To Your Aid.
They Need To Fund The Church From Time To Time Because You Are Doing A Lot For Them’
Payment of tithe is a very essential part of Christendom. Every believer is expected to give to the Church 10 percent of his/her earnings. Even the money given to the believer is subject to the same treatment. Apparently, this is in conformity with the scripture in Malachi 3:10, which says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” But there are people that believe this particular scripture in the Bible is responsible for the proliferation of churches today. To this category of people, if this portion were to be deleted from the scripture, a large number of churches would close shop. So then, how do the churches manage the tithe members pay on a regular basis? Does it mean that a believer that doesn’t pay tithe regularly won’t go to Heaven?
CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘We Offer Scholarship To Indigent Students, Train Youths’
(Apostle Ofodile Nzimiro, Vision Coordinator, Throne room Trust Ministries, Kafanchan, Kaduna State)
I WOULDN’T believe it is tithe that is motivating the establishment of churches. It shouldn’t be money and profit, as that is not the way of God. A church must first of all be established as a revelation of the kingdom of God, through which the message of Jesus Christ is preached to recover man from the fall of the kingdom through Adam. The basic motivation should be to prepare men to live worthily on the earth. A church founded on tithe is an aberration.
The world is divided into two categories. There are those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t. The gospel of our salvation has always been under attack. The Bible also says that in the very last day, these things will increase. Such postulation is part of the warfare, and I don’t believe it.
For me to be able to respond to the issue effectively, let us go to the genesis of tithe. Why did God command it, when He said: “bring ye all tithe and offering into the house of the Lord?” First of all, it is so “that there will be meat for the priests.”
For instance, we have paid workers in the vineyard. Secondly, the Church has in its fold the needy. In the Throne-room, where I am, we offer scholarship to indigent students. We train Kaduna youths to become useful to themselves and the society. We pay their school fees and organise extra mural classes for them, where those deficient in certain subjects are trained. We also register them for school certificate examinations, apart from equipping some of them with special trade. We are doing this to ensure that they are engaged and avoid being used by the devil. So, through tithe and other means, we gather finances towards ensuring that our environment and where we are is transformed.
But the Bible is very clear on the issue of tithe. The Bible tells us that when we keep this commandment, God will open the heaven and bless us by blessing the congregation. Members become prosperous, which also reflects on the church. If I’m going to organise a crusade, for instance, I need money to do that. Jesus never ignored money. In fact, the Bible teaches us that ‘money answers all things.’
So, forget the world attack on the church, as if it was meant to be poor. Jesus was not poor. If God is the Creator of wealth, should the institutions that represent Him live in poverty? The world wants us to live in poverty, but that is not what Jesus preaches. However, there is need for moderation in everything, because that is what God commands us to do.
We must be wary of those that criticise the church on every little thing, especially the issue of money. How much money should a pastor have? If I am the leader of a prosperous congregation, I have no business being poor. If a man has seven sons, who are millionaires and they decide that each of them will give to the father N1million every month, as a mark of honour, what does that make him? It means that in a month, the man will be N7million rich. Do you expect him to be going about in poverty? Does the world have the right to curse him for that?
My job is to lead men to God as a priest, to bring them to where they hear and understand God, to teach them to obey the commands of the scriptures so that it might be well with them. When it is well with them, it will be well with all of us. It is our responsibility to fund the kingdom and to make the Lord’s will for the kingdom to be established on earth. God has never shied away from money. In the book of Matthew, where it is said, “the rich man will not enter into the kingdom,” I agree God spoke it. But in the next verse the Bible says, “with God all things are possible.” People always stop at the first verse and don’t go to the next verse.
What Jesus was saying to us in that verse is that the rich man needs to be careful. God must guide him so that his soul is not bought by money. Does that mean that Jesus is preaching poverty? That is my disposition towards this. If you go to my village in Oguta in Imo State, they will also recognise me because I have done charitable things for people. For example, there was a season that I gave out motorcycles to young men on account of that, many of them got married. I have sent some to the university; many of the young Christians who got born again in the village and had no sense of direction then are now focused. Many of them are now graduates and are working in areas of their choice. That is the essence of priesthood.
Anybody who opens a church on that foundation (tithe) is living in error. I can assure you the person will be building unto Babel and not according to the kingdom of God, Who will not be there.
‘Tithe That Comes To The Parish Is Used For Church Maintenance’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
WE know that the practice of paying tithe is established in the Old Testament and of course, there is a blessing attached to the payment of tithe. As many people desire to receive the blessings accruing from that, we do not discourage them from paying tithe.
Indeed, we encourage people to pay their tithe. However, we know it is not a sin if one does not pay his/her tithe because salvation is more of one’s relationship with God. It is a covenant with God that individuals decide to make. So, we do encourage our members in the Catholic Church to pay their tithe.
We know that people that pay their tithes are obviously not giving it to the priest, or individuals. Rather, it is for the growth of the church and therefore, it is something that is commendable and brings God’s blessings upon the individual who pays.
On whether tithe is the reason for the existence of so many churches, I am obviously not in a position to make that kind of judgment. What I know is that it is a position in the Old Testament and it is also God’s work, which is capable of generating blessings for people. But I do understand that there are people who take advantage of it to enrich themselves. They make personal gain and wealth out of it. But the purpose is for the expansion of God’s work and not for personal enrichment. So, if there are people who go into it for personal enrichment, obviously they are offending God. I think sometimes some people go out of line with what the Bible says.
The tithe that comes to each parish goes into the account of the parish and is well accounted for, just like all other things we do in the parish. If there is a project, for instance, it is used for such. It is likewise used for other developmental projects, but if it is used otherwise, it is obviously sinful.
As part of our regular activities in all the parishes, tithe is used to take care of the poor, through the associations that are dedicated to do such, as well as those who come to the parish office for help. So, tithe is part of the pool of resources that will be available in the parish for the work that needs to be done, including taking care of the poor.
‘Tithe And Offering Are Used For Members’ Welfare’
(Pastor Lazarus Muoka, General Overseer of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries, Worldwide)
IN fact, I had it in mind when this church was established that I wasn’t going to collect offering from people or have offering bags going round the church. But when I read the Bible, I discovered that I would be depriving people of God’s blessings because it is a commandment and we have to keep the totality of God’s word.
In this church, majority of the people do not pay tithe. But that notwithstanding, we have to keep to the Lord’s commandment. But left to me, I would have said there would be no tithe or offering and that members should just come to church, worship God and go home. But the people will not be blessed because the Bible says; “give and it shall be given to you…” and if you don’t give you will not receive. So, that truth must be obeyed, but the issue now is whether there is tithe or no tithe, offering or no offering, the real church will still be there because it is serving God’s purpose and God is the Owner.
Besides, to be honest with you, the tithe and offering we have in the church today, is not enough to meet the needs of the church, in most cases. That is why some people go too far in order to sustain their church because church expenses are too much. And you know that it is easier for majority of the people to get close to the church and its authority than seeing the government and those in authority. This is because they don’t buy ticket to see the general overseer to make their demands known.
For instance, penitent prostitutes and ex-prisoners have to be rehabilitated. There are also armed robbers who gave their lives to Christ and have to be established, as well as kidnappers that are willing to stop, they have to be established, as well as widows and orphans and so many others. They are all on your neck and you are depending on the small money church members bring to the church. Sometimes one individual’s need might just take the whole money for the day’s service.
So, you can see that tithe and offering are needed to run the church. In fact, in some advanced countries, government funds the church and supports what the church is doing because it is working for the government and to the glory of God.
For example, look at the country’s situation today. If not for the prayers of the saints, what we have today may not be there. So, the church is doing a lot of work to help the government and individuals. Forget about the counterfeit ones around. Some pastors neither sleep nor eat because they are busy praying for the people and the country. Some people go on holiday, but pastors don’t. Their mobile phones are always ringing 24 hours of the day. You have to answer and solve people’s problems. In fact, if you have a large congregation, government needs to come to your aid. They need to fund the church from time to time because you are doing a lot for them. So, tithe and offering are being used for the welfare of people in dire need.
‘Tithe Is Purely For Evangelism’
(The Rt. Revd. James Olusola Odedeji, Bishop, Diocese of Lagos West, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
TITHE is not the reason for people to start a church. God is the One behind it, except those operating it for a different purpose. Our church was established many years ago, and we have churches that are very close to our members. As we are growing, there is provision for expansion. It is not basically because of tithe. Tithe is just one of the obligations that the Bible recommends for Christians and so, if anybody is fighting the church on that account, it is unfortunate, because the church is not about money, but about the salvation of souls.
The church is like a factory, where we prepare souls for heaven. Tithe is not the reason for starting a church; such a notion is very carnal and not scriptural. When God touches members’ hearts, their pockets would also be touched. In such cases, people are moved to give to God. You don’t need to cajole people before they can give to God the 10 per cent of their income.
But one cannot deny the fact that some churches do things anyhow, but that is not enough reason to condemn others because of tithe or offering. The tithe we collect from members is purely for evangelism and church maintenance. It is also used to cater for the poor, the needy. It is basically the source of income for the church to develop physically, spiritually and otherwise, it is not for anybody to share. It is for the less privileged and we use that to put smiles on people’s faces. We do this to demonstrate that the God we serve is good, loving and caring.
So, we have a social welfare ministry that is responsible for what we do here. They take care of those that need assistance. Both the Old and New Testaments make the Bible complete and nobody should prefer one to the other, because they are both important.
For instance, the New Testament is the fulfilment of the Old Testament. One should neither base everything on the Old alone nor capitalise on the New alone. If the Old one were complete, then there would have been no need for the New. The two should go together.
‘We Don’t Open Church Because Of Tithe’
(Archbishop Joseph Ojo, Presiding Bishop/General Overseer, Calvary Kingdom Church Int’l, Badagry Expressway, Okokomaiko, Lagos)
THE Issue of tithe predates the Church. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam not to touch one tree out of all the trees in the garden. Only one, and that he was to eat freely from the rest. But his eyes were on that one that God said belonged to him.
In Genesis 14: Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek on a public high way. If tithing were not in the Bible, those that are called by God would have still preached the gospel, while those that are not called would have looked for something else to do.
The ordinary person or the outsider’s understanding of tithe has always been the problem. Many out there think that churches are being opened indiscriminately because of tithe and offering without the understanding that the calling of God is responsible in about 70 to 80 percent of the churches and ministries that are being established.
The spiritually blinded person cannot see that it is not only churches that are on the increase. There are also hospitals being established everywhere, just like schools, including universities. At a time, Nigeria had three regions — North, East and West. Later, it became four with the coming of Midwest. Today, there are 36 states and the Federal Capital; the local government councils are over 700.
I think population and inability of government to create jobs for qualified Nigerians are responsible for the proliferation of not only churches, but also all other sectors. There are many who wouldn’t want to be involved in pastoral ministry but for the call of God on their lives they have no choice than to preach. But there are also those who wouldn’t be in it if they had good jobs.
Let this present administration of change, change things for the better by providing jobs for our youths. They should leave the church alone.
‘Tithe Is Used For Payment Of Pastors’ Salaries …’
(The Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Peter Ogunmuyiwa, Bishop of the African Church, Diocese of the North and Abuja
TITHE is used for paying pastors’ salaries, as well as general self-development and welfare. For instance, if there is a member that is in need, certain percentage of the money is used to assist him/her and the less privileged generally. And if there is need for structural development, tithe is also used in that direction. The setup in our church is just like the civil service structure, where the pastor does not have direct access to church money.
There is a committee that handles finance in the church, tithe inclusive. So, whatever money that comes into the church through tithe goes into the church purse. Such money is used to do necessary things in the church, such as church building.
It all depends on the type of churches you are talking about. In the mainland churches to which we belong, emphasis is not laid on tithe. Don’t forget also that tithe is not a New Testament instruction. It is an Old Testament teaching and so, in the New Testament emphasis on tithe is very minimal. Even in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, He never emphasised on tithe. In the portion where He mentioned tithe, it was used derogatorily. So, tithe is not fundamental in mainland churches.
And if you are now talking of the reason for proliferation of churches in tandem with the collection of tithe, then you should be talking to maybe the new generation churches, where tithe goes directly to the pastor, or the general overseer. In our church it is not mandatory, but optional. You don’t preach or place emphasis on tithe, as if it is a condition for one to be saved. Some people attach tithe to salvation, saying ‘if you want to be saved, you must pay your tithe’.
Tithe is not the basis of our salvation, but believing and giving your life to Jesus Christ.