Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Warning: This post is about money. 

Further warning: Money is probably the most powerful idol in your heart.

I've written this post because money is an important topic for Christians to talk about, but many of us pastors are afraid to talk about it because of the sins of those who have gone before us. We are afraid. But, alas, some things must be said, even at the risk of being lumped in with the Jimmy Swaggarts of the world.

In the interest of full disclosure, part of my motivation to write this post is the financial state of Ember Church. However, I have no intention of trying to motivate people in my own congregation to give so that the church can be rescued. If you were at church last week when we publicly discussed our financial circumstances you know this. (If you attend Ember and missed this information, but would like to know more, please let me know.) What Ember needs is for me to find a full-time job somewhere else in the city, something I am trying to do in earnest. However, what I've written below still needs to be said. As usual, I've tried to state things as clearly and frankly as possible.

I'm convinced that the reason we don't like to talk about or hear about money at church is because we love money, put our faith in it, and wrap our identities around it. Let me be plain. Money is an idol. The more viscerally you respond to a sermon on money, the more likely it is that you are harboring money as a powerful idol on the throne of your heart. I know those are strong words, but I believe them, and I believe they need to be said. God hates all of our idols because they steal his rightful place in our lives, and they ultimately make us less than human.

Last week at Ember I mentioned, while talking about the church's finances, that part of why we tithe--give to the local church--is to wage war against the idol of money that captivates our hearts. If greed is the idolatry of money, then generosity to God's work is the antidote to our greed.

What does the New Testament say about tithing?

Oddly enough, the NT does not mention tithing, though for the earliest Jewish Christians it seems likely that they would have continued to tithe to the Temple, and then given an additional amount for the work of the Church. The Gentile Christians did not have to pay a tithe (which was really closer to a national tax for Israel) for the upkeep and operation of the Temple. So what drove them? Here is a sampling of some Scripture from the NT. (Thanks to a commenter at the Jesus Creed named Amos Paul for compiling these.)
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 • Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

Romans 15:27 • They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:11 • If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?

1 Corinthians 9:14 • In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

2 Corinthians 8:12 • For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

2 Corinthians 9:7 • Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Notice that there is no set sum, like a tithe (10%), for the NT churches. Rather, giving is governed by the principles of grace, willingness, and generosity. C.S. Lewis noticed this absence of specific direction, and concluded thusly:
“I do not believe that one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid that the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”
In other words, give until it hurts. Make sacrifices for the work of God, and especially for the local family of God to which you belong. The church's responsibility is not to make its pastors rich, but to make their work possible, and a joy. God takes very seriously the work to which he has called ministers, and his will is for them to "receive their living from the gospel."

Should I tithe when I am in debt?

I hear this question from time to time. "Isn't it God's will for me to be out of debt? Shouldn't I put that ahead of giving to the church?" In fact, it is God's will for you to be out of debt. However, if you're not going to give to the church because of your debt, then neither should you buy any new clothes, eat out, go to the movies, buy Christmas or birthday presents, or do anything else than the absolute, bare minimum required to survive until you have successfully paid off your debt. If you're so concerned over your debt (and you should be concerned over it) that you would withhold from the work of God in your midst, then you should also withhold from yourself every blessing of life in modern America. No cable. No Netflix. No internet. No cell phone. And you should probably sell as much as you possibly can in order to speed up the repayment of your debt.

Have I overstated things? Maybe I have. But is it right to withhold from God's work and indulge yourself? A cell phone might not feel like an indulgence, but when you're giving $100 to Verizon every month and $0 to your local church, and you claim that you're too in debt to tithe, perhaps something has gone awry in your heart. Perhaps there is an idol on the throne of your heart, the throne that rightfully belongs to Jesus.

My family is in debt. We have a mortgage. We have a car payment. We bought a new HVAC system in 2010 that we're paying off. We had our basement waterproofed. We have a significant chunk of debt to pay off. But, despite our debt, and even though I'm the pastor of the church to which we tithe (Yes, pastors tithe too!), we give sacrificially to Ember Church. We do it because we love the local church, and believe in the power of the community of Jesus and the necessity to fund it. (Incidentally, our giving has not increased since planting Ember. We give the same percentage to Ember that we gave to Heritage.)

To answer the question, Yes, you should tithe even when you are in debt. For many of us, we are in debt because money has been an idol. Paying off your debt will not solve the idolatry problem. But I believe that generosity will.

How much should I give to the local church to which I belong?

There is no definitive number for this. Let the principles of grace, willingness, and generosity guide you. You need to work out with God just how much to give. But don't ask, "How much can I afford?"; ask, "How much, God? How much must I give to kill the idol of money in my heart? How much will it take to starve the beast within me?" I know a family that gives 10% of their pretax income to the local church. They do pretax income because they want to make sure that God and the Church gets financial resources before the Government.

Here are some more tithing tips:
  • Don't chop up your giving. If you've decided on a certain amount to give to the local church, don't reduce that amount to support missionaries or do other charitable giving. Let the local church be your first commitment, then support missionaries from your abundance, if you are able. Also, trust the church to be able to responsibly direct the funds.
  • Never tell your pastor, "My tithe pays your salary." If you still consider it "your tithe", then you haven't been gracious, willing, or generous. When you put it in the basket, it doesn't belong to you anymore. Just as "your taxes" don't pay for every single thing the government does, so "your tithe" doesn't pay for everything the church does.
  • Don't withhold tithe to make a political point or express your dissatisfaction with the pastor. This is childish. Don't let your money do the talking when you're perfectly capable of doing the talking yourself.
  • Trust that God will provide. My family has consistently given more than we can afford, and we have consistently seen God come through for us. Because of God's faithfulness in the past, we have faith for his continued provision in the future.

Tithing is, in the end, a discipleship issue. Tithing calls us to fully root ourselves in a particular faith community, and to follow Jesus in the most sensitive of areas--our bottom lines. It is an act of war with the idol of money. It is an exercise in faith, and God will prove himself faithful.


Preston said...

Andy is right: we all place far too much value on our value. Each should give what he has decided in his heart to give, but when making that decision one must listen to God... God will make it painfully evident if that amount is dishonoring to him.

That being said, I do want to point out that tithing IS mentioned in the NT: Mt. 23:23 comes to mind. In fact, the only places tithing is mentioned in the NT is when Jesus is railing against hypocrisy. This is not to say we should not give; Jesus means to show us that God gave us everything, God owns everything, and if you think you can give 10% and then you're done, you have another thing coming.

However, Jesus never specified that our giving should go to the "local church". In fact, there was no local church, just the church. And if they were dissatisfied with their church leaving it and giving to another was not an option.

The apostles shared everything and didn't consider their property their own... they gave freely to the poor, but never passed a basket down the aisle. They seemed to know how to be generous and how to take care of their fellow man.

I believe it is noble that pastors tithe. After all, they have to set an example and many actually believe that the tithe is a Biblical commandment and that it is as good for their parishoners as it is for themselves. And I truly believe that many consider it a spiritual sacrifice and it is done with only the purest motives. However, if my employer required (or my coworkers and customers expected) me to surrender 10% of my income back to my employer, (which could then be paid to me again the next month), being a mathematically inclined individual my salary negotiations would take this into account on the way into the position. This would by definition mean that the sacrifice wouldn't hurt, and C. S. Lewis would be ashamed of me.

The following is a controversial statement, but it has to be said, and I've tried to phrase it in as neutral a tone as possible: I think one reason people are skeptical about the concept of the tithe (apart from Biblical content, of course) is that its most vocal advocates are the people to whom it is paid. I would gladly purchase and enthusiastically read a book by a non-pastor explaining the justification for, and benefits of, the tithe.

Regarding giving while in debt: In some cases, not all, the debtor who gives to a church is helping the church to pay off its debts (salaries, mortgage, etc.) at the expense of his own. Thus the recipient of the charity ends up financially in a better position than the giver... which amounts to nothing short of poor stewardship. Jesus NEVER tells us to give to those MORE fortunate than ourselves. That debtor should give, yes... after all it is neither his neighbor's fault nor God's fault that the man is in debt. But he should help those LESS fortunate than himself.

One reason people avoid church is because they feel they will be judged if they don't give enough money. That basket is VERY visible, whether it's passed or left in a relatively unobtrusive location (that everyone passes by). The proudest few months I've spent as a Christian were the months when I served as treasurer at Ember. During my short stay in that position I ensured that people had ways of anonymously giving; this meant that many people did not use the offering basket... so those who couldn't give could feel welcome. I took great pride (in the biblically justified sense of course) in protecting my neighbor's privacy and ensuring that people were not treated differently based on what they could or could not give... as treasurer, by necessity I was privy to information that I will proudly carry to my grave.

Andy, as a personal note to you: I have nothing but love for you as my Christian brother, and I don't intend any of the above to reflect on you personally. I wish you and Ember nothing but wild success and abundant blessings.

Lamenting that I have but 100% to give to my God,

Where is the Love? said...


Some comments. I do not know you, so you are free to disregard my thoughts as if they never came.

Tithe is a word that means tenth. So if you use the word tithe, you are commanding people to give you a tenth. Its usage commands such as a law. If you want people to give generously but not a required percentage, call it an offering.
The early Catholics didn't tithe. Jews don't tithe. Tithing started around 1066AD and was enforced and seemingly stuck around.

I live in America and pay my taxes. When I am surprised that tax dollars gets wasted on pouring salt on a road when its 40 degrees and not supposed to snow the next day, according to your blog I should not say what a waste of my tax dollars. But I do. If I gave an offering to your church, I would feel that part of my offering goes to pay your salary. What is wrong with that? It is factual. If nobody gave you offerings, would you have a salary? Yes, it goes to much more than that. It does not give people a right to hang it over your head or tell you how to preach. But it is still factual.

I am also surprised that you would say that the offerings should go to your church and now missionaries. It is not your money. It is God's money. If God's plan is for me to support missionaries as I believe in the great commission, then who are you to question it. Jesus' last teaching was the great commission, and there are missionaries out there who are not fully funded by churches.

I'm also confused by your profile. You rent out a church space from another church, have only one service so not an abundant attendance, and yet seem surprised that you can not afford the church to pay your salary and possibly stay afloat.

In Matthew Chapter 16:18, our Lord made a very strong statement when He said, "Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." Notice in this passage that the term church is singular, not plural. Jesus did not say that He would build his churches, but rather simply that He would build His church. Listen to the passage again. "Upon this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against IT." Again in the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, "That the church is the body of Christ, and that there is only one body." Ephesians 1:22,23 & 4:4-6.
When I look at all the churches that pop up, especially the single churches that have no affiliation, no set doctrine, I get confused. There are 250+ Christian denominations in America and over 10,000 churches that are whatever their main pastor feels like making them (no set doctrine). What makes your church better than the one next door? What makes your mission more important? Why can't you be a pastor at a set major denominational church and lead your mission through it? There is a reason that the major denominations do not have these money issues, as they are able to have multiple services and a larger attendance base.

I applaud you for your post, and your courage to write it, but I question it. I wish I knew you personally, could see your heart in God, knew your love, but unfortunately I don't live near by. I stumbled upon your blog on accident, and hope you don't lose the spark that God gave you for ministry.

Your Bro in Christ.

andy said...


I share your concern over the proliferation of denominations and churches. But there are reasons, both practical and theological, that I have not joined a denomination. Without getting into those reasons, I will say that Ember is a part of a larger organization of churches called the Alliance for Renewal Churches (arcchurch.org).

I would like to add that neither I nor the elders of Ember are surprised, or caught off guard, by our financial situation. This has been something we've been aware of from the beginning, and I have been pursuing other jobs for almost a year now. The job market being what it is, however, has made this search difficult.

andy said...


Thanks for posting. It's good to hear from you. I'm going to have to write a blog post to respond to your comment because I maxed out the character limit in the comments section. It will be posted shortly.

Anonymous said...

You don't know the apostles didn't send a basket around. In fact the offering is one of the earliest attested portions of early church worship. Whenever there was communion, there was an offering.

The idea that a pastor giving a tithe back to his own church doesn't hurt is silly. Though I'm sure such pastors exist (just as such lay people do), the idea that pastors are in such a powerful position to negotiate an initial salary 10% higher than they otherwise would make--this simply isn't how the church works. In fact most analogies between business and the church don't work. One is a corporation designed for profit. The other is the bride of Christ. If the American church understood this better, she would not be so idolatrous with regards to money.

And even if a pastor were that conniving, still the check would need to be written. Wouldn't you have a difficult time writing the check every month when you know you could keep it for yourself and have more stuff?

As for the issue of who advocates tithing, here's the problem--who else should advocate it? Doesn't the church need those who have given their lives to the study and preaching of the word to do just that? Who is in a more qualified position in the church to teach this essential aspect of discipleship than pastors?

Finally, if the only people you know to advocate tithing are pastors, then you need to find some more mature Christians to spend time with. I know plenty of generous lay Christians who are happy to talk about tithing.

Preston said...

Anonymous -

First, I must reiterate that I'm not against giving. It is the non-Biblical concept of a "tithe" to which I object. Placing goals and/or limits is contrary to everything Jesus stands for. He gave me everything, so if I commit less than 100% of my income, possessions, and time to Him I do not do him justice. And I thank him every moment of every day for the blessings I have the audacity to keep for myself and my family (also gifts from him, of the most precious kind).

The greatest objection I have to even having this conversation is that no matter what I say, people automatically assume what I mean is I'm keeping my money. And my spiritual maturity is questioned. How dare an anonymous stranger judge my Christian walk, my faith, and my love for my Savior? Nobody stops to think maybe *I'm* that "more mature Christian", that maybe I've actually read my Bible and studied this particular topic in depth in a vain attempt to find a Biblical way to align my views with the "mainstream", begging God to show me where I'm wrong so I could feel like a "normal" Christian.

This is another reason I could not be a pastor. The first time I preached about cheerful giving, giving to the poor, and how important giving is whether or not it's to me, I'd be run out of town by my own elders.

Preston Wilson

Anonymous said...

Preston, everything I criticized you for is in your own words. You said that the apostles didn't pass a basket. I think this is contestable based on the earliest accounts we have of Christian worship. Your post implied that pastors who tithe are self-serving. I think that's ridiculous. You made an analogy of the business world to the church world. I think this is a bad analogy. Your post said that pastors shouldn't be the ones teach on giving. I question who is more qualified. I'm struggling to see where I got you wrong. You seem offended, and I'm not sure why.

Preston said...

Anonymous -

I assure you I'm not offended with you... besides, even if I wanted to be, it's hard to be offended with someone who has no name. ;-)

Yes, I have a problem with baskets. They are prominently visible and those who use them are deprived of the spiritual blessings of giving in secret, no matter how they try. They're good for setting an example, but they're very bad for welcoming the poor or (God forbid) the non-Christian into your church. This is the sole reason why I set up a PO box for Ember when I was its treasurer: to allow people to do their giving in secret as Jesus. And on a side note, I saw one local church use KFC buckets as offering baskets, so I do indeed have a chip on my shoulder about baskets. And I was making a point; I neither know nor care whether there were actual baskets in first century Israel. The people sold ALL they had and laid it at the apostles feet, and whether or not there was a basket involved is not the point... the point is they gave everything and they gave it with joy, not because they were told they had to to "receive God's blessing". They already had God's blessing, and they gave out of their abundant joy and thanksgiving.

I don't think pastors who tithe are self-serving; I know one pastor (I used to be his treasurer) who considers it to be a very spiritual act and I firmly believe that he believes in what he's doing and I applaud him for practicing what he preaches. I just happen to disagree with the Biblical basis for that particular preaching topic.

Make no mistake: a church is a business. Yes, it's a non-profit, so it doesn't pay taxes... but it has bills to pay, salaries to pay, people to serve, and if it doesn't bring in enough money, it goes away. And if a church isn't managed with a little bit of wisdom from the business world, this process happens much more quickly. This results in those who frequent the establishment in question having to find a new place to "do business" (with God), and employees become unemployed. No, a church doesn't produce widgets, or manage stock portfolios, or pay dividends... but it has a budget with income and expenses and in the ideal scenario it does have a product: Christians, which are arguably the most valuable product of all.

Either I misspoke, or you misread, regarding pastors not teaching on giving. Pastors absolutely must, and are duty and honor bound, to teach on giving. Teach me that I need to give of my time and my resources and perhaps most importantly my money. Teach me that money is something that I value more than my God, no matter how I try to avoid that trap.

But I draw the line at teaching that giving 10% is enough for the rich... or God forbid that it is required for the poor. And I refuse to be taught that the local church's new building (for example) is more important than new mothers in Ethiopia (1/4 of which die in childbirth), or villages in desperate need of clean water. Nobody is more qualified than a pastor to teach about Biblical giving. It's the extra-Biblical giving that *nobody* is qualified to teach, most especially pastors (who because of their advanced education know the contents of the Bible very well).

Again, I'm not offended with you, nor would I be even if I knew who you were. I am offended in general that so many people believe in something that's not in the Bible, that so many pastors have so little faith in God to provide for them yet enjoin us to trust God to provide abundant blessings for us when we give to them, and that anyone who asks for scripture references for such an obviously clear commandment of God (the tithe is common sense, after all) is branded a heretic (figuratively or literally, take your pick).


Anonymous said...

I don't give my name because I fear an internet footprint. The idea that tithing is not a Biblical command is obviously wrong. Tithing is commanded in the OT as a way to support the Levites (Num. 18:21-32; Deut. 14:28-29). Jesus is the new high priest, but it's not a stretch to connect pastors as the NT equivalent of Levites. Of course giving to the poor is also commanded in the OT in addition to the Levitical tithe (e.g. Exod. 23:10-11; Lev. 19:9-10; 25:35-37; Deut. 15:7-11; 24:12-15).

Many argue that the tithe is no longer applicable in the NT. And yet Jesus said he didn't come to abolish the law but fulfill it (Matt 5:17). The NT nowhere abolishes the tithe. If anything it raises the stakes, not lowers them. You rightly point out that Jesus twice mentions the tithe in a rant against the Pharisees (Matt. 23:23, Luke 11:42). Notice though in both those passages, Jesus says, "You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." Jesus tells the Pharisees they should tithe the smallest portions of their crops and also attend to justice, mercy and faithfulness. He tells them to do both, not one or the other. These 2 things together (Jesus coming not to abolish the law but fulfill it, and twice telling the Pharisees they should tithe) constitute good NT reasoning to tithe.

So yes, I believe it is Biblical in the NT to tithe, just as it was in the OT. And just like in the OT, we should also give to the poor above and beyond our regular tithe (Matt. 6:3-4; 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 14:13; 18:22; 19:8; Gal. 2:10; Jam. 2:1-17).

Private giving is good of course. Jesus commends it in the sermon on the mount. He also commends the widow's mite in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4. This was a public act of giving that Jesus highly commends.

I'm surprised you speak of "so many pastors have so little faith in God to provide for them." Most all pastors I've known do not exhibit this at all. The ones I've met have been extremely faith filled and invite their flock to do be the same. If anything, they don't talk about giving much at all in my experience. Our church experiences are either very different (which is quite possible), or you are setting up straw men who only exist in online debates or as TV preachers who are so clearly ridiculous that it's best to not interact with them at all. Andy is no such pastor, as you know.

Preston said...

Anonymous -

Internet footprints aren't truly as sinister as the popular media would have us believe. However, I initially almost replied anonymously myself, for fear of rejection by the church I currently attend... but then I realized if I were rejected by a church based on this particular belief, the sooner the better. I also have enough trust in Andy that he won't take my comments as personally directed at him... to post anonymously, I believe, would be an insult to him.

As a brief diversion, Levites were descendants of Levi... thus to be a Levite was a hereditary thing. There are no Levites today, as far as anyone can tell... and to call pastors NT Levites is to misunderstand the difference between being born into a family and going to seminary to study for a particular profession.

On the financial topic, I think we're talking about the same thing, just using different words. I'm protesting the use of the word "tithe" because it (a) sets an artificial limit in peoples minds and (b) it is presented by many pastors as a Biblical *requirement* for New Testament believers, which I do not believe to be supported by the Scriptures... and as we all know, a gift which is required is no gift at all. You say Jesus gives us a new, higher standard... I say he owns 100% rather than 10%.

I am also protesting the "prosperity gospel" message that when you give at least 10% God will provide blessings above and beyond that to make that 10% sacrifice not painful. We are not called to give painlessly; we are called to give generously and sacrificially.

The pastors I speak of who have too little faith are those who insist that the tithe is a Biblical requirement when it is not... we are supposed to give and give generously, but the concept of the tithe is irrelevant because we have a new, more painful commandment. But since that new commandment doesn't clearly specify giving money to support the local church, the local church latches onto the antiquated concept of the tithe in an attempt to make sure they are able to make ends meet. If they have faith in God either to provide for them or (God forbid) allow them to fail, they will enjoy all the benefits they promise us when they tell us to give 10% to get God's blessings, and if we don't see his blessings maybe we should give an "offering" above and beyond our "tithe".

Andy -

I've said my piece, and again I have nothing but love for you as my Christian brother... I wish you nothing but success at Ember and I hope the church makes it through what sounds like a difficult time in the next few months.

I'm going to sign off on this topic here... since the conversation has deteriorated into an argument over semantics and nomenclature between myself and someone whom I probably know but doesn't want me to know who he/she is, even though beneath the semantics and nomenclature it appears that we actually agree with each other.


Anonymous said...

I don't know you as far as I know. So there is nothing personal between us. I simply find many of your arguments unconvincing and poorly thought out.

Of course God owns 100%. Does anyone argue God doesn't own 100%? He owned 100% in the OT too. That has not changed one iota between OT and NT. The OT has plenty of rules. So does the NT. This has not changed. The rules in the OT were concerned about the heart not just rote obedience. This has not changed. We disagree about whether tithes are relevant. That's fine. You must admit Jesus says twice that you should tithe. You must admit Jesus commends public giving with the widow. If you want to give beyond that, great. For Christians who give less than that, I think it is a healthy goal that to at least reach the 10% mark. This is what Andy is in effect saying. I agree with him.

Also the Levite/pastor analogy is better than you say. Of course it isn't genetic. Now we're talking about something that does change between OT and NT--genetics don't matter in the same way they did before (Gal 3:28). But Jesus establishes the authorities in his church (Eph 4), and they now serve the same function that the Old Testament priests served. Many, many have followed this line of thinking in the past 2000 years because it's a pretty good one.

I also find many of your claims about self-serving pastors not in line with my personal experience. If that has been your personal experience, then I apologize on behalf of the church. I hope you interact with better pastors in the future. If your beef is with pastors you've seen on TV and heard about at other churches, then my unsolicited advice is to leave them to God and rejoice over the fact you have had good pastors.

Jennifer said...

I think that the real problem people have with this topic is that it touches on something more personal than money itself, which is one's faith. There is absolutely no where you can go in this conversation without having your faith questioned. We all need to be reminded that we have not been given the right to judge each other.

That being said, I grew up in the working class poor. My family worked very hard and barely got by living paycheck to paycheck. We often bought milk with spare change and bread came from returning cans and bottles. Yet every week I would watch as my mother would fold her last two dollars into a quarter fold and line up the edges just so in order to make it look more substantial than it really was. Then I would watch as she placed it in the basket as it went by, embarrassed by her "sin." After all, if she wasn't living up to the Biblical standard of a tithe and committing a habitual sin, then could she *really* call herself a Christian? She eventually stopped going to church all together because she "couldn't afford it."

Please know I am not blaming her pastor, or anyone for that matter, for this seemingly unintended outcome. However, this is the kind of spiritual abuse that makes me sick to my stomach and the kind that my husband, Preston, is rallying against. I am not sure what your story is, nor would I ever judge you for doing what you truly believe is right. But there are many out there that have the same experience as my mother who will never know everything that God has to offer because their faith has been undermined and their motives brought into question. Now *that* is a sin.

If you feel the need to respond, please be kind. It isn't easy for me to be vulnerable.

Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer, thank you for your story. I'm so sorry that your mother felt the way she did. I can imagine that being a very painful thing to watch.

I've not been trying to be unkind to Preston or to question his faith. All I have to work with are his words here, and I found several of his initial comments both wrong and offensive. I've never met a pastor (and I know many, have grown up in one's home, and am one) whose giving is self-serving the way Preston alludes to in his initial post. Preston refers to pastors who talk about tithing as both mainstream and unbiblical. I challenge both those assumptions, which he has not responded to. He just moves on by trying to attack something else I've said, only to be wrong again.

If the heart behind what Preston is saying is to protect people like your mother, then I support him and your mother 100%. Since most of his initial words were against these self-serving pastors he alludes to, I went after those attacks to protect the reputation of all the men and women I know who are excellent pastors, rarely teach on tithing but then get railed for doing so. If he is the more mature Christian he alludes to, then he's misrepresented himself here. My understanding of maturity includes humility of which I've seen little here.

But thank you for your story. We all have them and forums like this are impersonal and remove us from our humanity a bit, which is a dangerous place to be. Thank you for bringing back the personal. May the Lord bless you, your mother and all those who feel excluded from Christ's body.