Author Topic: Tithing Questions  (Read 3424 times)

human

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Tithing Questions
« on: November 21, 2016, 08:06:55 PM »
Maybe this is a hijack but for those that tithe for religious reasons do you give to the church? Or can you give to whatever cause you want?

If you do give to the church is there some kind of reckoning done by the congregation to ensure everyone's paying 10% (which seems to be the popular proportion of salary to give - not sure why) or is it based on the honour system?

I'm not religious so I'm sure this question comes off as ignorant but I'm curious as to how it works.

MOD NOTE: Split off from donations poll thread:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/poll-percentage-of-gross-income-donated-to-charity/
« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 08:10:19 PM by arebelspy »

englishteacheralex

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2016, 08:31:47 PM »
It really depends on the religion.

My husband and I are Protestant. Our understanding of the situation, based on our understanding of scripture, is that a strict definition of tithing means giving money (time is not really a substitute, though it should be given additionally) to one's local church, not other charitable organizations. Tithing 10% of one's income (we do gross, some do net) is a baseline for giving. We give 5% to other organizations/individuals on top of our tithe because our goal is radical generosity, not early retirement.

We chose a church whose finances and giving align with our beliefs. Our church gives 25% of its donations to local organizations that help the poor. After that, the money pays the rent (our church does not own a building and rents a space in a community gym) and the salaries of a few pastors and counselors. Our church also funds a few missionaries and was running a restaurant that employed people who otherwise would have difficulty finding a job--tithing supported that restaurant for a time.

We love our church and we think the money is spent wisely. There is no policing of other members according to whether they tithe or not. Personally, I never tithed and didn't believe in it or understand it until I had been a Christian for almost three years. Then I read some books and read the Bible closely on the subject and decided that it was an essential part of understanding money's place in my spirituality. It was a personal decision that I made through study and prayer. My husband and I continue to push ourselves to give more to our church and to other organizations that we believe in.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2016, 09:08:36 PM »
I think it all comes in many different flavours. I'm a practicing Catholic. I even went to catholic school, but I never heard the word tithing from the pulpit, or heard anyone mention 10%. From the number of 1's and 5's in the collection basket each weak, I'm willing to bet most Catholics haven't heard of 10%, either*. There's definitely no reckoning, where we surrender our W2s at the end of the year.

I have heard that the Mormon church requires active members to submit a W2, but that could just be an urban myth.

Personally I donate 10% of my gross salary to various causes; ain't none of them the mother church. It's rich enough, and the mission-type work leaves me a little cold. I don't call it a tithe, but I do believe it's morally obligated, making the word tithe somewhat accurate.


*some parishioners put checks in the basket, inside little envelopes. No telling what they're forking over. Could be 10%. There's always more cash than envelopes, though.


Nothlit

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2016, 09:18:49 PM »
As someone who has grown up in the Christian faith and been a part of churches of many different Protestant flavors over the years (pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, nondenominational...) my experience has been that most mainstream Protestant churches encourage tithing 10% of income to the church as an expression of gratitude and generosity resulting from the blessings we have received. The 10% figure has its basis in scripture, though the Bible makes no requirement for monetary giving as a condition for salvation. (A key belief of the Protestant church is that salvation is attained through faith in Christ alone, not through good works.) I have never been part of any church that examined individuals' giving or enforced specific amounts, and I would not stick around in one that did. In my experience, the most you typically hear about it is a sermon on the topic once every year or two, encouraging people to study and pray about it and come to their own conclusions.

I personally set aside 10% of my net income to support a variety of Christian organizations. The bulk of it does go to my local church, which supports its own missionaries, counselors, pastors, and local families in need. The rest goes to other organizations I've chosen to support like Wycliffe Bible Translators, World Relief, and International Justice Mission.

deborah

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2016, 09:24:06 PM »
Tithe MEANS 1/10th so a tithe is (by definition) 10%.

smilla

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2016, 09:56:50 PM »
I'm Anabaptist and I tithe but only give about half of that to my church and the rest to other charities.

My experience is that churches keep track of how much you give, for receipts, but they certainly aren't checking that you are giving 10% of your income although they may wish you were. The last sermon on giving that I can recall was over a year ago and specifically stated that the New Testament does not require that we give 10% or any specific amount, but that our giving should be prayerfully determined between ourselves and God.

Tithing 10% of one's income (we do gross, some do net) is a baseline for giving. We give 5% to other organizations/individuals on top of our tithe because our goal is radical generosity, not early retirement.

This is lovely.

I tithe because I'm decidedly selfish and hyperaware of what is mine and what is yours (the odd one out in a family of the cheerfully openhanded), and tithing is a way to deliberately counteract the uncharitable in me. I also have a large budget line for "sharing and showing up" which includes gifts and special event costs so I don't neglect relationships in favour of hunkering down and saving.

I have several goals and FIRE isn't foremost among them.

The 10% figure has its basis in scripture, though the Bible makes no requirement for monetary giving as a condition for salvation. (A key belief of the Protestant church is that salvation is attained through faith in Christ alone, not through good works.)

Yes, Anabaptist too.

Hotstreak

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2016, 10:13:26 PM »

My experience is that churches keep track of how much you give, for receipts, but they certainly aren't checking that you are giving 10% of your income although they may wish you were. The last sermon on giving that I can recall was over a year ago and specifically stated that the New Testament does not require that we give 10% or any specific amount, but that our giving should be prayerfully determined between ourselves and God.



In the USA, they have to keep track so that they can issue accurate tax forms for peoples deductions.  A family member of mine used to keep track of the donations for a church he was a member of.  He said everybody donates differently.  Some write a check every other week when they get paid, some once a month.  Some people make one large donation per year.  Some give nothing and many people give modest amounts.  If a church has a member who's giving a huge amount each month.. they know who that person is.

smilla

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2016, 10:32:04 PM »

My experience is that churches keep track of how much you give, for receipts, but they certainly aren't checking that you are giving 10% of your income although they may wish you were. The last sermon on giving that I can recall was over a year ago and specifically stated that the New Testament does not require that we give 10% or any specific amount, but that our giving should be prayerfully determined between ourselves and God.

In the USA, they have to keep track so that they can issue accurate tax forms for peoples deductions.  A family member of mine used to keep track of the donations for a church he was a member of.  He said everybody donates differently.  Some write a check every other week when they get paid, some once a month.  Some people make one large donation per year.  Some give nothing and many people give modest amounts.  If a church has a member who's giving a huge amount each month.. they know who that person is.

Yes, they know how much each person gives, but not what percentage that is of their income.

MBot

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2016, 09:33:42 PM »
I've lived in a few diffeeent cities in Ontario Canada, and most churches I've attended have made the point of saying "the pastor doesn't see how much you give" (or the board, or other leadership). It's whoever compiles and signs the charitable receipts at year-end and whatever 2 volunteers double count and deposit the weekly offering for the budget. Unless the church is very tiny that seems to be a procedural safeguard so that no one gets guilt tripped over giving or influences decisions by giving a lot.

robartsd

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2016, 11:40:35 AM »
I've never heard of a church policing contributions to require a particular contribution level.

In the church of which I am a member, there is a lot of care taken to ensure that member donations are confidential (though they are rarely anonymous). Of course records are kept for tax and other accounting purposes and generally local leaders have access to these records (though it is possible to donate to the worldwide church in a way that prevents local leaders from accessing the record). Each year members are asked to meet with the leader of their congregation to declare if they are a full-tithe payer or not. This declaration is kept confidential. Church leaders also have no direct evidence of personal financial situations and even what is subject to tithe is somewhat a matter of personal interpretation. My church has a lay ministry and funding for local programs is determined by participation levels, not by donation levels, so local leaders have no incentives to favor those who contribute more or guilt-trip those who contribute less. The church does have some employees who work in its welfare, education, facility management, and administration programs.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2016, 11:49:12 AM »
Churches here do track it for tax purposes.  I have received tax slips from churches where I went for Christmas or Easter services when I was visiting out of town.  I am obviously not a member of their congregations, but because my name and address were on the cheques they could do the tax work.  They did not know me or anything about me.

bridget

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2016, 11:57:34 AM »
I think it all comes in many different flavours. I'm a practicing Catholic. I even went to catholic school, but I never heard the word tithing from the pulpit, or heard anyone mention 10%. From the number of 1's and 5's in the collection basket each weak, I'm willing to bet most Catholics haven't heard of 10%, either*. There's definitely no reckoning, where we surrender our W2s at the end of the year.

I have heard that the Mormon church requires active members to submit a W2, but that could just be an urban myth.

Personally I donate 10% of my gross salary to various causes; ain't none of them the mother church. It's rich enough, and the mission-type work leaves me a little cold. I don't call it a tithe, but I do believe it's morally obligated, making the word tithe somewhat accurate.


*some parishioners put checks in the basket, inside little envelopes. No telling what they're forking over. Could be 10%. There's always more cash than envelopes, though.

It's an urban myth; tithing in the Mormon church is on the honor system (but obviously if you're a believer you know you're not going to get a lie past God, so I think people are generally on the up-and-up about it). Your bishop does ask you when you are in the temple recommend process whether you pay a full tithe, and the answer must be yes to go to the temple. So it's a requirement to the extent you want a temple recommend, but a temple ordinances are necessary to salvation so .... I'd say it's pretty required.

There is some debate about whether it's 10% gross or net (most Mormons I know use gross to be on the safe side, but some read the scriptural reference to tithing on your "increase" to mean net). Generally, bishops don't ask what your interpretation is, they just ask yes/no whether it's a full tithe.

Now that I'm no longer Mormon, sometimes I think longingly about the years I paid 10% gross and wonder how much it would be now if I had stuck it in a retirement account.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2016, 12:24:06 PM »
Churches often track giving for tax purposes, and it can also be an indicator for the elders & deacons to know if your family may be struggling and need extra help.  But it is not tracked to force you to give 10% "or else".  In fact, I think a survey once showed that something like 5% of practicing Christians actually faithfully tithe.

Tithing in the modern day church is not considered a "salvation issue", as in, if you don't do it you won't go to heaven...  It is a way to care for others and to put you in the right mindset that all you have belongs to God.

My church gives out a full financial disclosure of all church spending and how it is given to those in need, missionaries, charities, etc.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2016, 12:26:57 PM by v8rx7guy »

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2016, 12:56:16 PM »
The churches I've gone to all say the important thing is to be charitable.  That you're giving is important, and oh hey by the way, it does cost us some money to turn on the lights *cough* *cough* gimme cash yo for Jesus.

Jaguar Paw

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2016, 03:50:23 PM »
Our church keeps track of and posts how many donations they get per week. At the end of the year, they generally show a pie chart on how only a small percentage of the church is actually tithing. We donate 10% of our paychecks every two weeks. In addition to that we donate to some causes that either my wife or I have a heart for: generally either defend the orphan or ngo groups that help prostitutes.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2016, 04:05:33 PM »
The churches I've gone to all say the important thing is to be charitable.  That you're giving is important, and oh hey by the way, it does cost us some money to turn on the lights *cough* *cough* gimme cash yo for Jesus.

That would be true...  It takes money to turn on the lights.

darknight

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2016, 04:20:07 PM »
No church I know of (i'm familiar with baptist, catholic, mormon and few others) require you to give. It's an on the honor system. You get out of it only what you give. Scripture tells us to judge not, aka don't worry if a fellow follower is paying, worry if you're paying.
Tithe typically is 1/10th, it's usually done as money in our day and age as it would be hard to pay in hay bales 1/10th of your increase to the priest/bishop/cleric (historically they used to).

FWIW, I pay a tithing and have never felt disadvantaged. In fact, I would argue that paying 1/10th of my money taught me at a very young age to begin tracking my money and being coherent about saving etc. I remember starting to pay tithing when I was younger than 10- as a kid I got my first job delivering classified papers when I was 8 (no, it wasn't "olden days", I'm only 28) and learned what it meant to pay a tithe and save money. Because I tracked my earnings for tithe, I subsequently tracked my earnings for savings etc etc. It has made me far better off financially. I remember growing up in a lower income household (2 adults, 4 kids) and combined income was roughly 40k tops. Less most years. My parents would borrow $200-$400 on occasion when they needed to make the mortgage (they always paid it back, but they always knew I had cash). Being more involved with money let me invest (and lose completely) $1000 in the stock market when I was 15. Haha. Funny times. I don't regret it at all actually, I'm more impressed that I had an extra $1k to invest at the time.

Long of the story made short, tithing (whether you're religious or not) provides the benefit that it makes you track and spend wisely. If you're a religious person, you get the added spiritual utility of giving of your wealth to those who need it and receiving a spiritual reward. 

human

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2016, 08:32:14 PM »
I guess I could have just googled and found out it was old english for one tenth, duh.

I barely give a couple of percent of my income and half of that is to family, the other to a hospital. It accounts for more than ten percent of spending though! Thanks for all the responses. Not sure I'll ever give away that much.

BuffaloStache

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Re: Tithing Questions
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2016, 09:45:51 PM »
I give way less than 10% now, with the assumption that as I reach FI I will be giving 10% (and likely much more) of my investment/post-work-to-live job earnings away to church and/or charities. My church has never been specific about a %age of income or even that you have to give it all to the church- just that you should give when you can. I figure since I'm just starting my FI journey, I don't feel so bad not giving a full 10%