Thursday, March 16, 2006

Views on Tithing

This morning I came across an article from the March 16 TN Baptist and Reflector newspaper. The cover page article is titled "Clergy, laity hold different views on tithing."

The researchers polled four groups of individuals:
1. SBC clergy
2. SBC laity
3. All clergy
4. All laity

They posed four statements. Below are the statements, followed by the percentage of people within each group who agreed with the statement.

1. Biblical mandate to tithe to the local church
SBC clergy: 76%
SBC laity: 51%
All clergy: 56%
All laity: 36%

2. Biblical mandate to tithe, but not necessarily to the church
SBC clergy: 4%
SBC laity: 28%
All clergy: 12%
All laity: 23%

3. Biblical mandate to give, but no specific amount or percentage
SBC clergy: 12%
SBC laity: 16%
All clergy: 20%
All laity: 27%

4. No Biblical mandate to give at all
SBC clergy: 1%
SBC laity: 3%
All clergy: 1%
All laity: 10%

I think the most revealing of all of these statements is the second one. It's apparent that, at least among SBC churches, there is a difference of opinion on where the tithe can be given. 96% of pastors believe that the tithe should go to the local church (the storehouse), while only 72% of laity believe this. It's not that laity do not want to give. The first statement makes that obvious (51% believe that there is a Biblical mandate to tithe). I think there are two possible reasons why so many believe that the tithe can go outside of the local church. The first is that they do not like how the church is stewarding the funds. The second is that they want to make decisions as a family how they give away their resources. They want a hands-on experience, be it globally or locally.

The bottom line here...when there is this much of a difference between what pastors think and what their parishioners think, I think we need to be a little concerned.

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