How to Tithe Less and Give More

Posted in Personal Thoughts by diptoe on April 14, 2011
Punching the tithe clock

Punching the tithe clock

Are you frustrated with tithing? Do you “short” your tithe (give less than 10%), occasionally forget to tithe or just skip tithing altogether? I used to do some of the same things before I discovered the secret of how to tithe less and give more.

Like you probably do, I used to put my tithe in the offering box every Sunday, or at least most Sundays. I’d slide my envelope through the slot as if I were punching the clock, Sunday in, Sunday out. Some people pay $8.00 to go to the movies; I paid 10% of my week’s income to go to church (which ironically, is in a movie theater).

There were a few problems with this way of giving, however.


Never enough

First, it always felt like I never had enough to give. Someone in the church would need a little extra for groceries one week. Or a charity I dearly wanted to support would come asking for donations. I always had to turn them away empty handed. I’d already given away my tithe money, and the rest of my funds were already budgeted out.

Plus, I felt a little burned by other churches in the past that had taken my tithe and used it to grow a bigger and “better” church, while putting the unmet financial needs of the people in their congregation second. They asked for money for programs and mission trips, while the people who sat next to them went hungry and their bills went unpaid.


Giving out of obligation

Don’t get me wrong. Mission trips and programs can be great, and not every church is like the ones mentioned above. I felt (and still feel) that tithing to the church is important, and I should know. My father was a pastor when I was growing up, and sometimes the money in that offering box was the only reason we could afford groceries that week.

So I gave to the church, but I gave out of obligation. I didn’t do a very good, consistent job of it either. It was hard to be serious about tithing when it felt like the money was going down a black hole (literally) while all around me I saw people with unmet financial needs.


No more tithing = more giving?

Finally, I just stopped tithing. I tamped away the guilty feelings and let the money build up in a special tithing account. And then something awesome began to happen. Someone needed help. I had the money to help them. Someone else needed help. Again, the money was there. A charitable cause I wanted to support was having a fundraiser. And again, I had money to donate.

Suddenly, I felt free. I was giving, and more than that, I wanted to give. My frustrated attitude became a giving attitude. I was tithing less (actually, not tithing at all) and I was giving more.


Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Stop giving away your money out of obligation. Really. If you’re tithing because you feel obligated to, then you’re not really tithing.

2. Instead, open a bank account and deposit your tithe into that. I recommend using a free checking account. This way you can write checks and get receipts in case you want to deduct your contributions at tax time.

3. Here’s the hard part: DO NOT TOUCH IT. You will be tempted to spend it on yourself, especially during hard times. Remember, it’s not your money. You’ve already given it away. You just don’t know to whom yet.

4. Wait, watch and listen. The opportunity to give will come.

5. Give wisely and discretely. Use your money where it can have the greatest effect, and do so discretely. This isn’t about being seen as Mr. or Ms. Benevolent Moneybags (see The Fine Print below). You will not believe how good you’ll feel after being able to help someone without them knowing.


Finally, if you’re having trouble giving enough, consider asking others to join you in giving. There’s nothing wrong with that. Or if you want to give but cannot give financially, consider giving of your time, talents or other things. The Bible doesn’t say that a tithe has to be money. I hope this post has helped you. If you have advice or thoughts about tithing and giving, please feel free to comment below.


The Fine Print:

It has taken me a long time to write this post, because (1) I don’t want people thinking that I’m some sort of big Mr. Benevolent Moneybags-philanthropist-hero-guy [I’m not], and (2) because I didn’t want people to come begging to me thinking that I have a ton of money sitting in an account somewhere. I don’t. The amount of money that I give remains the same miniscule amount as before. What has changed is my attitude about giving it.

Speaking of attitude, I’m still working on some of that. I know I’m supposed to be a generous giver and all, but please don’t ask me for money. You’ll likely not get any. See my previous post about begging. Ideally, if you receive help from me you’ll never know about it.

Also, if you or your pastor has a problem with this post, tough luck. Please don’t stop giving to your church if you feel like you’re not supposed to do that; but also please don’t try to convince me that your way is the only way.


One Response

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  1. Scout said, on April 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    This is an interesting and insightful post. I think I agree with the spirit of it, but I don’t know that I can resonate with it entirely. I guess it depends on if you’re a Christian and the value you place on church… and also, I suppose, what kind of church you go to.

    Like you, I’m a pastor’s kid. Some people think their tithe magically floats to heaven and goes straight to God. No, your tithe is used to further service and ministry to others. When you tithe to a church, as you know, it pays the church’s light bills, it funds the food pantries and the sidewalk ministries, and yes, it pays the pastor and their families — people like you and me when we were growing up.

    If everyone felt led to give to just strangers on the street or non-profits (that are also qualified for grants and churches are not) then how will the churches operate? How will the bills get paid and the ministers be able to survive? Being able to give to your neighbor and causes you care about is important, but I think it’s careful to now swing so far as to abandon your church — especially if you are benefited or blessed by your church.

    The problem is that people become cynical towards giving to churches because of places like mega churches or mini-mega churches. They see the tithe handled irresponsibly, so the giver no longer wants to aid the church — this seems to be something similar that happened to you. I have no problem calling out the mini-mega church of our area: GCC. I have serious issues with that place AND Pastor Beasom because while yes, they do a lot of ministry, I think they could do even MORE if they stopped being so “seeker sensitive” and focused on the bells and whistles of their building. Also? Pastors should live as ministers, as servants, as shepherds. And this is coming from a pastor’s family. No matter how big your church is, I see a serious problem with pastors living in the fancy subdivisions of our suburban areas. You’re funded by the tithe of your sheep, therefore, you should live as or below the means that they do.

    So all this to say…. I understand and wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of your idea, but I think it’s dangerous to abandon a church or else it will cease to be able to blessing to both you and others in the community.

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