The last two weeks at QBC have focused on the issue of giving and I thought it would be helpful for people to be able to work out how much to actually give.
So here’s how to work out your titheable income…
How much do you earn? Let’s say $150k to get an average household income.
But… You only take home $100k of that…
Then you pay gst on everything you buy so technically not income either… Reduce by another 10%
And if you can salary sacrifice then you can reduce it even further!
Then there’s housing which you have to have so not really titheable..
Clothes… A result of the fall so really not something we should be responsible for…
Education in a Christian school to keep your kids pure… God would want that right?
And so the list goes on of things that aren’t technically titheable and that’s before I even get to my expenses!
Yes – expenses – because it costs me to go to church, take kids to youth group, and all those meetings. Surely I am not supposed to bear that cost myself?
Then we have people from church around for dinner and they eat my food and drink my wine… That costs me.. So I pass it on to God because he needs to know the real cost of this Christian life.
There’s trips to Bali to visit the orphanages, church camps… It’s not cheap following Jesus.
By the time I had finished I worked out that God owed me.
He owed me $5630.95 so I figured that if ‘God is no man’s debtor’ I should send the church an invoice…
Such is the problem with tithing as a practice. It is a rubbery concept at best and for those with short arms and deep pockets it can be easily evaded.
If the law was our teacher to prepare us for faith in Christ as Galatians 3 says then perhaps we can see tithing as trainer wheels that prepare us for actual bike riding?
I know many churches preach tithing because pragmatically it works to make ends meet, but what if in doing that we are actually keeping people in spiritual infancy, with the illusion of having matured? It would look silly for me to ride a bike with training wheels once I know how to ride, but this is what happens often in church.
John Ortberg says a tithe is a good floor but a very poor ceiling. The NT expectation is that we will reflect the generosity of God rather than be restricted to a set amount. It also allows space for those in dire poverty to be supported by others while they find their feet again.
Research shows that Christians give away around 3% of their income on average (which is a disturbing statistic ) so the challenge is not to get people tithing but rather to have them know God in such a way as to desire to reflect his heart.