Why I Grossly Dislike Tithes and Offering Messages

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. – Malachi 3:8

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

If you’ve been to church – pick a church; ANY church – you’ve heard these two scriptures read, quoted or paraphrased at the all critical offering segment of the church service. It is the most wearisome portion of church to me.

Do you know what I just realized? In all my days, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any pastor recite the first portion of II Corinthians “You must each decide in your heart how much to give”. Typically, they encourage you to give more! Give abundantly! Give according to the blessing you want God to bless you with! I can’t tell you how many Sunday’s I’ve had to check the bile swelling up in my throat to prevent myself from puking all over a church pew.

I don’t want to sound like a disgruntled Christian. I am not, I assure you. I actually look forward to giving my tithes and offerings in church. I look forward to showing the Lord my gratitude with my gift. My little white envelope and check is my way of saying “You know what God? You got me up every morning, kept me employed, kept me healthy, and saw that all my needs were supplied. I can’t repay you (after all, what price can you put on good health?), but I can bring you this gift to say ‘thanks’!” I come to church READY to give, and I think that any serious Christian should as well. After all, you go to work ready to do your job, don’t you? Does your boss have to come by your desk every morning to give you a 30 minute exhortation about all the wonderful things that will happen if you put your 40 hours in? Then why in Christ’s holy name do we have to suffer through an offering message about how God will “Open up the windows of heaven” if we give?!?

I sincerely believe offering messages are for new converts/believers. We are trained in Western society to get all we can and keep as much of it as possible. This thinking has seeped its way into the church, and because the church was instrumental in the (neo)colonization of Africa, this stingy mentality festers in African congregations as well. That’s why you can have a church where the members are dirt poor and the pastor honks for them to clear the road in his air-conditioned Benz on his way to Sunday brunch. Ekene Onu calls them “church-preneurs”. (But that’s another topic for another day.)

As I was saying, it is the duty of a Christian to give his/her tithes and offerings. It is the least of your reasonable service. How are you going to call yourself Christ representative in the earth if you can’t give money? Common money o! Can you really be expected to give of your time, talent and love – nontangibles which are far more valuable – if you have to be goaded and coerced into your reasonable service? Explaining things at this level are for folks who are babies in the things of God. If you’ve been a Christian for 15+ years and are still struggling with giving, you might need to do a spiritual check-up.

The other thing that absolutely makes me violently ill where offering messages are concerned is that I sometimes feel like I’m being sold a bottle of snake oil. This typically happens at big conferences and retreats, which is why I no longer attend big conferences and retreats. Offering messages in these arena sare typically manipulative.

cheerful-givingI remember when I was in college and just newly born again. A big named Prophetess who was very popular at that time had come into town. My friends and I were giddy with excitement because we’d watched her on VHS in our dorm, and by virtue of the power of her words and worship ON TAPE, found ourselves prostrate on the ground in prayer. Her arrival in town heralded the first conference I would ever attend. Before she came on stage, there was the typical business of praise and worship (four fast songs and two slow ones), some introductions of some other leaders who were profiling on the arena stage, and then the offering message which was, without exaggeration, 40 minutes long. By time he was done, he had convinced me that God would double (or even triple!) my blessing “but only if I gave big”. God would perform a miracle! He had a $50 line, a $100 line and a $1000 line going. I was working at Walmart on minimum wage at that time, and had a little less than $19 in my account. I knew this. But the man had spoken with such urgency, and I didn’t want to miss out on the blessing that the anointing THIS prophetess would bring, and despite the niggling voice in the back of my head wrote a $50 check…which then proceeded to bounce, and bounce and bounce like a jilted lover. I made the same mistake two more times in my life before Bank of America taught me the lesson that Darwinism could not.

This scenario repeats itself all over churches across this country, every Sunday and sometimes on Wednesdays during Bible study. If you are reading this and find yourself pressured into giving something you don’t have (be it time or money), STOP. Don’t do it. It’s only going to create bitterness in you. That is why I believe there is a special part in Hell for all these preachers and pastors who have had a role in creating hard-hearted, bitter Christians.

Instead of offering messages, many churches (particularly Black churches) would do well to have a financial literacy class. This is the other reason I despise offering messages. They keep people at a need-based, subsistence level. Let’s say I and everyone in the congregation in already walking in financial freedom: we have no debt and no lack. What would the “blessings of God” look like in that case? Why can’t we then begin to think and operate in THOSE terms, rather than “Gawd gonna pay yo’ bills if you open up yo’ heart and yo’ purse my sistah!!”. Is God a pimp? No really.

Is.

God.

A.

Pimp?

No one should be goaded into giving; and besides, no one wants to receive a ‘gift’ reluctantly given. If it’s not of your free will, it’s ransom money…and last I checked, the Lord wasn’t holding any of us hostage. We all have free will.

What about you, Reader? You might not be a Christian, or have any religious tendencies at all, but if you’re human, you probably have some method of organized giving. How do you feel about “offering messages”? Do they bother you? Motivate you? Or not really matter at all? Discuss! ↓

 

 

  • I had this discussion with my sister after service last week. This pastor before the offertory says, ”if you give God one euro, He will give you one euro but if you give Him thousand, He will give you two thousand.” Where’s the logic in that? When the Word States that you decide what to give? I mean you have no idea the financial situation of the congregation. No, I will not offer all I have and starve waiting on a dove to bring me food. I will give what I deem sufficient and you are not God’s financial advisor to determine what I receive in return. I’m just tired. Sigh.

    • You see what I mean? Manipulation of the highest order! I tiya sef. Give according to the measure of grace in your heart! Ah!

  • Love this. Captures many of my own thoughts, even as a newbie (I don’t know if there is a term for a returning Christian?)

    I have Mormon memories (long story. Moving swiftly on…) of tithe being 10%. But this breaks it down rather nicely: http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_tithe.htm. Last line? “Also, there is no requirement in the Bible to give “seed money” to a church, preacher or ministry, and no promise that any blessings of any kind will come as a result.”

    • “Re-born again” maybe? Rededicated! That’s it!

      We WILL discuss these Mormon memories. You don’t get off that swiftly.

  • Allison

    Several years ago, my parents invited me to their new church for a visit. I already attended a church regularly, but they were so excited that I agreed since my mom hadn’t been to church in years and my dad hadn’t seen the inside of one since their wedding.

    Praise and worship was a bit more sedate than I was used to, but it was, at the time, a new church and the choir’s chemistry wasn’t tight yet. Then it was time for the offering. I’d say a good 98% of the congregants got up and gave. The last giver returned to the pew and we were lead into another song. In the middle of this song, the head of the financial committee signaled us to halt singing and said that they need $x more dollars to be given. I froze. My blood actually ran cold. I wasn’t the only one. There was dead silence in the room. Then began the “cheerful giver”, “you will be blessed” speech. A few more people trickled back up to give some more. But It was pretty clear that some people weren’t over being offering shamed. But it got me to thinking about the psychology of that moment. Did they feel justified because it was clear that people were able to give more? I remember being in youth group and someone asking our leader if we were supposed to tithe on our net or gross earnings and him responding, “Do you want to be blessed on the net or the gross?” It really should be that simple, I guess, but I’m with you on the speechifying.

    • Nana Ama

      I hate it! Why should I give my hard-earned money to those suckers? Countless times I have danced joyously to the rhythms of our African churches and put absolutely nothing in the receptacles at all!:) It tickles me no end that I get away with it. I give in the community in diverse ways (time and money and knowledge and skills), but I control it, not because someone on the make says so!

      • I think more people would be likely to give abundantly if houses of worship were doing what Isaiah says to do with the money: care for the orphan, widows and aliens in your land. Instead they spend it on the newest sound and light system and other aesthetics.
        This is just one of the many reasons the church is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Collectively, it doesn’t have a strong enough impact in the community. Why should a Christian feel like s/he has to go tofu and do their good works under the banner of another organization?
        Dance on, sister! And eat all the jollof while you’re at it!

    • Been there. Never went back! Who wants to be shamed into giving? Kai!

  • Prou

    Once at a church I used to attend, a member of the financial committee stood up and gave the congregation a 1 hour lecture on how ‘, you need to dig deeper into your pockets,it takes money to run a church, to take care of the garden and those nice pews you are sitting on..etc etc and did not beat around the bush with the Bible verses. Needless to say, I no longer attend that church.

    • Oh ho! So simple gardening too he couldn’t ask for volunteers to help? Ah! I don’t blame you for leaving. And if you try to give suggestions they will block you with protocol and titles. Kai!

  • ‘If it’s not of your free will, it’s ransom money…’ that statement resonated within me like an earthquake. I’d never looked at being pressured or forced to give in this light.

    The fact is the rules of giving have been rewritten completely and what we currently have is so far removed from scripture. Many preachers have tried to repurpose the Old Testament tithes and offerings so as to make it fit into the New Testament church so as to guarantee a steady revenue stream. But they fail to realise that giving in the New Testament is not labelled as a tithe or an offering. Giving in the New Testament actually involves giving of anything one can cheerfully give to help someone in need. And it was viewed as some form of contribution in the early church. This could time, money, food, clothing etc. Hence the bible says anything we give will be accepted as long as it has been given willingly and cheerfully.

    The so-called relabeling of giving in the New Testament as tithes and multiple offerings does not follow the model of the early church. Instead contributions were taken to meet needs and not to buy a brand new state of the art horse carriage for Peter or a special ocean liner for Paul as is quite customary is much of today’s church.

    • My Bishop actually said something akin to what you mentioned in your comments, which I really appreciated him for. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) “I’m not going to manipulate any of you into giving. I only have to take up an offering…you’re the ones who have to get up and go to work”.

      He went on to emphasize that no matter what we gave, it would never meet ALL the needs of our church! (We’re quite a small church.) I wish more church leaders were as forthright, but they’re so busy fighting tooth and nail to increase their margins and inflate that budget that there is no time for forthrightness.

      *General Advertisement* I go to The Father’s House in Norcross, GA if anyone wants to drop by. But be warned! Like my blog, the message isn’t for the faint of heart; and if you do come, you must never, ever, ever(!) tell ANYONE you found out about the church from M.O.M!