Godly Dragon Ramblings: The issue of Tithing and Church Structure

Tithing is something in my Christian walk that I struggle with. Financial difficulties and a thin budget are what make it difficult for me to give my tithes to the church. But I also had some bad experiences with churches that were legalistic over tithes and offerings. I would give my offering, only to wonder what the church was doing with it.

Now I understand that there is a commandment from God to tithe. And we should obey God when He tells us to do something. I used to go to Mission Viejo Christian Church. Back in January of this year I didn't put an offering in the offering basket because I had no cash on me. Then I got scolded by an older lady for not putting anything in the offering basket and got told that I am supposed to tithe. That sounded very harsh and legalistic to me, and it sounded like she was making me out to be a bad Christian just because I didn't give an offering. And that shattered my desire to want to give anything to the church, including tithes, because I now felt like I had to give offerings instead of wanting to do it myself.

At my current church which is Saddleback Covenant Church, the pastor gave a message about how offerings to God are never wasted. But he also said that when you give tithes and offerings, then God will repay you more. This is in the context of the "money in the pot" type of offering. And that rubbed me the wrong way because it just doesn't sound right. It sounded like prosperity theology. I find it hard to believe that it works that way.

Mandatory offerings that are above the tithe is very manipulative. Sure churches need money, but how are they getting it? Do the ends justify the means? The Bible also says God wants cheerful givers. How can they be cheerful if they feel like they must give such high offerings or else they are not in good standing? Legalism is what that is. And how are you supposed to know what your church is doing with your tithes and offerings? Are they putting it to godly use, or are they using their money to do greedy and horrible things?

More importantly, when you tithe, who are the tithes supposed to go to? That's when I discovered a series of documents known as the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles. And in book 2 section 4, it goes over the church structure and who the tithes and offerings go to. Apparently, tithes are not supposed to go to the pastor. What goes to the pastor are firstfruits. And the tithes are for the clergy, the virgins, and those living in poverty. By clergy, I am talking about bishops and deacon. When you hear those terms, you would think of the Catholic church or the Orthodox church. And as far as I know, no other denominations have this kind of structure. But I would like to see more churches have this structure because it's how tithes and offerings are supposed to be properly handled. Instead what we have is disorganization and lawlessness. And that's how the tithing and offering system became abused and manipulated by pastors and the like.

Another thing that blew my mind when looking at these Constitutions is that they were strict on Church Attendance. They would worship the Lord all day on Sunday. Then during the week, you go to fellowship first in the morning before work, then fellowship at night after work. There was no time to do any other activities. But more appropriately, no time to sin. Every chance they got, they got together in fellowship to worship the Lord together and read the scriptures.

These Constitutions are so strict that even those who consider themselves the most conservative Christians would say that these Constitutions are too extreme. But these Constitutions were meant to be guidelines for Christian living. When I read these Constitutions and then look at the world's activity, I finally began to realize how far we've fallen. Churches today only worship on Sunday, and then have Bible Study only once a week. But shouldn't we have more fellowship than this? Countless times we have wanted to do other things instead of getting together for worship. Such as watching TV, playing video games, and you know what, even just going out and doing leisure activities! There are so many distractions that have distracted us from fellowship and worship!

Now I know very well that I am guilty myself. None of us are blameless. But the fact of the matter is, this is how the Church was supposed to be. But instead we've fallen so far. Will we be able to bring back the old system from long ago while this earth remains? Most likely not, as we are all sinful. I'm not trying to make anyone be perfect and go back to the way it was. But there is hope. When Jesus Christ returns for His Second Coming, this earth and universe will be done away with, and in its place, a new heavens and a new earth. Only then will everything be made new, and we will worship the Lord forever, like we were created to do.

Anyway, I'm just rambling and thinking out loud. But I hope you'll think about all this too. Leave your personal opinions in the comments as usual. Have a blessed day!

Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/007/0070436.htm


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