Today I saw an observation that if “everyone” tithed, the church would have more money, and would be able to do great things with this extra resource. The observation noted that 1/3 of philanthropic giving is to religious groups.
I see two rational difficulties with this statement, the first is that this is the same as observing that if everyone went to church, the pews would be full. They don’t all go, and many churches sit empty. The second is because everyone does not go, pointing out the issue that those who do not go do not tithe does nothing to solve this problem.
Stepping away from the rational difficulties, I have a bigger problem that this is not a correct approach. This assumes that we should be doing great things — and perhaps we should, but we should also consider what Jesus tells us in Luke’s gospel:
The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? Luke 16:10-12 NET
I believe that Christian communities would do well to consider what Jesus said. A community that is unfaithful with the donations it receives will not, and should not receive larger donations. “Who would entrust” such a community? Instead of focusing on making laws, and spreading guilt — we need to ask if our faith communities are faithful and responsible with the resources which are generously given.
The same is true with numbers. Those communities entrusted with only a few, even if it is a community of “you, me and Jesus” need to be faithful as communities of faith. Are we living lives with Jesus and one another? How do we share each other’s burdens? How do we show love to one another?
So often we want bigger programs, bigger budgets, a bigger ministry — perhaps, instead we should seek to be faithful in the little ministry which we have. We say again and again we believe the individual is valuable to God — may we value the needs of the individual