How Will Churches Survive without Tithes?

HomeChristianity and the BibleHow Will Churches Survive without Tithes?

This is a good question. Unfortunately, it’s one that gets asked a lot. When I explain that God has not commanded Christians to tithe, it’s one of the first responses. What’s the problem? Why is it unfortunate? Simple: because some people believe we should continue teaching unbiblical ideas because they can’t think of a practical way to do God’s work without those unbiblical ideas.

The most unfortunate part is that these people persist in such nonsense while claiming to actually believe in the God of the Bible, who certainly doesn’t depend on our human traditions and bad Bible studies to accomplish His purposes.

There are all kinds of ways to support ministry at local churches. We do have a model in the New Testament, of course. People who followed Jesus paid out of their pockets in what is often called ‘freewill offerings.’ That is, they valued the work that was being done, and supported it with their money. This is how Jesus’ own ministry was funded, of course. Judas had the moneybag because there was money that needed managing. Some wealthy women (and, presumably, a bunch of not-so-wealthy folks) supported Him:

Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. Luke 8:1

Beyond what the first-century churches did, there are a bunch of ways to get money. Certainly churches can provide products and services to the public. Individual ministers like Paul did this, supporting his own ministry by making tents. Groups can do this, like Trappist Monks, who produce beer for sale. Many churches need no finances, as they meet in homes or under trees, and have no paid ministers. We who follow Jesus should take ministry seriously, and – where needed and possible – support those who do it well. This is a biblical ideal, spelled out plainly.

Also: where there is a real need for money, God can and does provide. Here’s an example. George Mueller ran an orphanage in England in the 1800’s. During his lifetime, he cared for more than 10,000 orphans, provided education for 120,000 children, distributed over 285,000 full Bibles, almost 1.5 million New Testaments, and over 200,000 religious texts in twenty other languages. The money Mueller received was also used to support other missionaries around the world, like Hudson Taylor. His ministry continues to this day… and George Mueller never requested financial assistance from anyone. He also never went into debt. He relied completely on God to provide. God did provide.

He wrote down some of these incidents. For example, on one morning there was no food for the children. They sat at the table and gave thanks, despite having nothing. While they were praying, a baker knocked on the door with enough bread for everyone. Then a milkman’s cart broke down in the street… and, rather than letting his milk spoil, he gave it to the orphans. These were apparently not isolated incidents.

God does not need our money. He has all the resources He needs. When He wants to use us, He will make sure we have all we need… including money. The New Testament teaches Christians to gladly give generously to those in need, as the Holy Spirit leads, as we determine in our hearts to give. That’s enough, I’d say.

The point of my articles on tithing is not, of course, to discourage anyone from supporting effective, biblical ministries. I support a number of ministries, and – to be honest – I’d love a few donations myself. However: money is the least of my worries. God has provided for me and my family, and will continue. My articles are simply meant to provide the biblical information needed to show that preachers and teachers should not claim that God demands that all Christians tithe money to their local church. I hope that my work does what’s intended, and that others will see the same benefit that I’ve seen as a result of knowing the Scriptures better: that 10% of my money is not nearly enough for God. He wants 100% of me, so I can use 100% of HIS money, with which I’m entrusted, wisely.


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