Recently, a blog post by John Piper about tithing the local church caught my attention for two reasons. First, John Piper stated that he would never say “you must give your tithe to my church.” I affirm this in regard to simple church and I appreciate this statement from one of the nation’s leaders in the legacy church. Indeed, Piper points out in this article that the Bible offers no justification for a mandated 10% tithe to a local congregation.
Secondly, his comments about giving to the local church highlight one of the blessings, if not advantages, of giving in a simple church:
When we think about what churches need in order to survive and flourish, I think they need, roughly, a tenth of what their people have, and more. You can feel free to go beyond.
As for me, I give almost everything to the church. I feel so utterly indebted here and thankful here that what I give is almost all here. And then there are the little things I do. Little things at the door or for pro-life causes. I’m writing little checks here and there all the time. But the substance of my giving is at the local church.
I would encourage someone to think through with a pastor what a good basis for giving at the church would be, and then encourage them to lavish everywhere else too.
A simple church requires nothing in addition to the giving and sharing of food, home, and time in order to survive and flourish. When I “think through a good basis for giving,” the basis is always the same 0%. In an individual simple church, there usually is no overhead cost. People are free to lavish all there giving “everywhere else” as the Lord leads. In fact, I attended a simple church meeting this past Sunday where they had an opportunity to give, but 100% of the gifts collected were going out the door to ministries in the city that serve those in need.
Do not misunderstand me. I believe there is good coming from the tithes and offerings made by brothers and sisters in legacy churches. I do not discourage giving to such churches. This simple church planting ministry has been greatly blessed by a legacy church’s generosity over the years! However, I do believe that “giving to your local church” is a stumbling block between many of our neighbors and Jesus. The money local churches need to survive and flourish, as Piper points out, requires a lot of sacrificial giving on the part of the members. This simply does not settle well with many of those around us outside as well as inside the church.
Those of us in simple church have the unique opportunity to help our friends see a different kind of generosity. Let us make the most of the opportunity and model generosity that lavishes gifts on Kingdom needs around us!