Should We Change the Way We Talk About Tithe?

Because I grew up in an Adventist home, I was familiar with the word “tithe” from an early age. I still vividly remember seeing my dad preparing the tithe envelope and placing it in the basket at church. Sometimes my dad would even let me place the envelope in the basket, and I felt like I was contributing to something so much bigger than myself. I hoped the money we gave would help more people know about our loving God. My parents always said, “Ten percent of your paycheck goes to God, as he has asked us to do in the Bible.” And I believed them.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I have 3 points:

  1. Tithe is 10% of “increase”, being 10% of what’s left over after expenses.

  2. The SDA local conference is not the Levitical priesthood; they have no claim to tithe.

  3. Deuteronomy 14:22-26 gives instruction how to spend the tithe when there are no levites around.


In 2006 I left the SDA for three years, due to the local church having few young adult, and joined a Non-Denominational Church. When I first attended the first thing I noticed was they had no tithe envelopes, and their church budget was always in a surplus. For a time I wondered how they did it, while every SDA Church I have ever attended is in a budget deficit every month. Then one day their pastor had a sermon on Giving to the Lord, and I learned how they were able to have a surplus. They didn’t tithe, but asked the members and attendees to pray to the Lord for guidance and give cheerfully. Plus, they were an Independant Church, so they had no local conference or General Conference to send the tithe to. So when I returned to the SDA Church in 2010, when I moved from Virginia to Florida, I changed how I gave to the Lord. I now combine my tithes and offerings into one, and don’t put any into the Tithe section of the envelope, since there are many people doing that every week and not enough are contributing to the local church budget. Instead, I divide it up and give a portion to the church budget, the local conference, the Sabbath School offering, and other ministries that are in need. And the Lord has blessed me more when I started giving out of my heart, then when I was tithing out of duty.


Yes, and essentially the Deuteronomy 14 text tell the Israelites to have a party with their tithe money, and buy ‘anything you want–an ox, a sheep, some wine, or beer’! Funny how we never hear that text mentioned in a sermon on tithe.

And I was flabbergasted to read in another article in this issue, that there are more administrators and administrative staff than there are pastors in the North American Division. When you’re so top heavy, no wonder there is so much pressure put on members to pay tithe, even when they have veered away from the original intent. And BTW, the railing in Malachi about robbing God was specifically directed at the priests who were cheating the Levites out of their fair share…in otherwords, not directed to us today.


It would be interesting to see how much the church might grow if did that, though! Let the local churches keep a month’s worth of tithe and throw a big community party! But hey, Revelation Seminars.

Yeah. We could argue it theologically all day long, but why? They’d just keep misquoting Malachi 4 until the cows come home to protect their sugar jobs.

Nobody wants to pay tithe because it’s a black hole. Whenever you watch any church conference, it’s the same people. Every single time. There’s no accountability, no chance to break into the club, and a whole lot of “how dare you” when you question any of it. (From both the admins and mindless zealots in the pews, and I’m not sure which is worse.) Sorry that “the young people” have wised up and figured that out.

(Aside: We had a terrible flood here a couple of years ago. 20 people died, the grade school got destroyed. Local church did nothing to help. I took my tithe and used it for school supplies. Every single teacher I got something for sent a big thank you note. It made me want to help more. Nobody wants to send their money to a bunch of ingrates. Church leaders, take note. Instead they tell us we’re ingrates if we expect them to say thank you. It’s insane.)

But even if want to you make the tired old “storehouse” argument, the Israelites got a land of milk and honey. The apostles got the whole pillars of fire Pentecost thing. What do we get, more Ted Wilson sermons and Clifford Goldstein quarterlies? That’s it? If that’s the carrot, I’d hate to see the stick.


Seven reasons I pay tithe and offerings:

  1. I am a big fan of our SDA schools. The first thing that gets axed as a result of a budget shortfall in our faith community is Adventist Christian education, as evidenced by hundreds of SDA schools being shuttered in recent years. When SDA administrators hold a child over the railing twenty stories up and threaten to drop it unless they get their way, I yield.
  2. I am full of patience and longsuffering. As a member of the Michigan Conference, I realize that I am funding certain crackpots, disseminators of disinformation, and loony conspiracy theorists. But I am hopeful that in time they might lift a finger or two and do something for the Lord.
  3. I am pragmatic about waste. The late Senator Alan Simpson’s philosophy about foreign aid reflects this pragmatism, in which he said that if 15 percent of this money actually winds up in the bellies of hungry children, “That’s good enough for me.” Yes, if 15 percent of what I give actually advances the Kingdom of God, that’s good enough for me, too.
  4. I am God’s steward. As God’s steward, everything in my possession belongs to Him. Paying tithes and offerings is only a small aspect of my stewardship responsibilities.
  5. I am grateful. God has blessed me far beyond what I have ever anticipated and far beyond what I deserve.
  6. I don’t see many attractive alternatives. Over the years, I have made my share of bad investments and purchases that I regret, but I have never regretted paying tithes and offerings.
  7. I am inspired by rich people who have taken The Giving Pledge and given a large bulk of their wealth to charity. If these people, many of whom are non-believers, can be that benevolent, I can at least do my part.

If, a certain percentage gets to where it is supposed to go, good enough for me? Really? More worker bees than pastors, really? More overlap that than (whatever), really? I don’t find that to be stewardship of anything! Hopeful in time it will get spent in the right way, really? Well, it’s all Gods anyway so He will take care of it! Platitudes perhaps?? What happened to using our own brain power and figuring out how to best use the ‘increase’,. why assume the .org is going too? There are many ways the funds can be put to better use. Let’s stop abdicating our role to the .org or God. My opinion, notice I said opinion, SDA’s need totally rethink this whole money giving issue and stop blindly doing what they are doing. Letting God ‘take care of it’ is a cop out!!


While tithing could be voluntarily adopted by individuals who desire to systematize their giving patterns, and could be taught that way, the above citations from this article crystallize the nub of the theological problem behind all of this. Tithing is nowhere to be found in the NT post resurrection church. There was no Levitical priesthood to support, no central storehouse where agrarian product was collected and kept, and tithe was never even thought of in the form of monetary return in the first place.

Paul instructed members of his Gentile churches to give out of their own intentional decision making, and to give out of the spirit of gratitude. Not a ten percent obligation. The Adventist Church meanwhile, has taken another turn in its history to put its membership under law, under a covenantal arrangement that no longer is in force for new covenant believers. It takes biblical literalism through proof texting to another level, and claims that it is upholding biblical truth. It is not. It is laying heavy burdens on sensitive and faithful people and not lifting a finger to help them shoulder those burdens. Just keep the cash flowing to finance Silver Springs, top heavy administration, and more pre packaged evangelism. It really is spiritually warped.

I like the alternatives laid out in this article, and the reasoning and values behind them. I do think it should have gone farther in calling out the problem for what it is within the denomination…that imposition of tithing upon believers is a total misreading and misapplication of the scriptures themselves.



I live in the Northeast US, in an area of multiple Adventist institution failures–Boston Regional Medical Center (formerly the New England Memorial Hospital), Atlantic Union College, The New England Memorial Church, grades 9-12 at Greater Boston Academy, and the closing of the satellite branch of the ABC, and finally, even the end of monthly delivery of food / books ordered from the ABC to this area. I have seen, up close and personal, how the Southern New England Conference / NAD has squandered its institutions. I no longer pay tithe to the corporate organization, but donate directly to a boarding academy in another state–the then principal advised me to send the money directly to the school and put in the memo line of my check ‘Student Assistance’ so that the money can go directly to a student to pay down their bill, then is put into the general fund of the school for teachers salaries or whatever the need is. My money goes twice as far to help out a worthy institution. I no longer worry if the organization I witnessed squandering assets gets their hands on my donated money for their inflated salaries or poor financial decisions. Too, I donate to charities assisting the very needy among us that are outside of the church. Feelings shouldn’t matter when it comes to giving, but they do. I no longer feel (based on witnessing and research) that my charitable donations are flushed.


Im not a milenial, yet i feel your pain and concerns. The prioritising of tithes is from God it is just the messengers who are not putting it right. I have seen God working out wonders in my life when i am faithful in tithes and im not talking hundreds of thousands, but i keep going from day to day with almost nothing and wonder how is tjis so. I have two children and recently adopted two that my sister left with nothing except their clothes when she passed away.

They go to a good private school and the school adopted them also i pay nothing except buy stationeries and uniforms, i drive them to and from and always worry about diesel, but somehow there will be help coming this week and that week as i go by.

I learned to close my ears to what the offering official says if it doesn’t sit well with me. I have however learned to study the bible more on offering like the widow of zeraphath i have notice that my cup is never full but never empty. So trust God and see if he wont open the windows of heaven for you.

From the little that you have take out the ten percent and wrestle with God about your bills and see if he wont open the windos of heaven for you. For some its the blessings blessings of life, for some its money, for some its work. But you need to tell Him. I know ive been there i took Him at His word, not at what my church leader said on the offering altar.
They start with tithes, when you are faithful but do not give offering they change to say the blessings is in the offering. But i say give God a tenth of what you have and remind Him of His promises. I pray that you finally find work that will help to put something on your table.


The concept of community-focused use of tithe/offerings is more consistent with the model described in Numbers, Chapter 18, especially verses 20 -28. The earlier verses in the chapter outlined the work done by the children of Levi, in the local temple. In today’s local churches, that kind of work is all done by local volunteers, not denominational employees. The verses 20-28 seem to support the idea of 10% of the tithes/offerings (not the entire amount) being sent upward.

As far as the Malachi “guilt trip” is concerned, Malachi only has 4 short chapters. In chapters 1 and 2, the prophet writer is specifically directing his condemnation toward the priests. So, why is it assumed that the “guilt trip” passage in verses 8-10 of chapter 3 is not still directed at the priests, rather than the villagers in the pews? If this understanding is incorrect, any clarification is more than welcome.

This topic is perhaps a bit controversial, depending on if you are the giver or the receiver. I have noted SDA organizations and institutions that remove the tithe from the employee’s wages. There was no demonstration of giving only demanding. I have observed the tithing, tithe distribution, and petty projects funded due to questionable leadership values and management. I have noted church administrators and pastors that preach God, yet demonstrate that their real god is what they can glean from the church offering or distribute to their own favorite projects.

I am a tithe payer, but I have chosen to provide funds to needed projects and the people in various countries and projects that I can observe and verify the impact the funds providing help for the sick, homeless, poverty-stricken, and those with physical deformation issues.

As a Christian, I have traveled the world (not under the limitation of SDA controls) and noted the SDA church’s financial mismanagement- even criminal activity that has deprived the local communities of diverting funds to their own use. I have noted church discipline in these areas which means moving them to another area or country to get them out of the limelight and allow them to continue these same activities.

My wife and I review the leadership in the local church and provide funds for local church expenses. However we do not support the many levels of church administration.

Instead, we provide funds for needy students and mission outreach in various countries based on interviews with those who conduct them. We find that many of these locals we work with are worthy of trust, and they are dedicated. We Arrange and provide health support for the needy as we do health outreach projects in Villages and communities in the various countries that we visit. In many instances, the relationships formed with those that we have assisted, become lifetime-projects that develop into special relationships. Sometimes, there is a failure…but then God gave each of us freedom to go our own way!

The promise of Mal 3:10 has been real for us…the Lord has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams. We budget 10%, but we do not really keep track—NO, we probably give more, but from experience, you cannot outgive the Lord. As far as time is concerned… I just work for the needs of the project and the people. Looking back…I have never considered the time commitment…Just that serving others is a very special feeling.

Just a thought and a question…Is current church leadership that far from what the Jewish priests experienced during Christ’s time on earth? During that time we noted special priests such as Nichodemus as Godly individuals, and then others not named who were raised with Christ, (Matt 27:51-53). Which were dedicated and working to fulfill the mission as assigned by Christ…then we noted Judas who aspired to be a pillar of the early church, yet his greed got in the way. My thought question…is the current church much different than that church Jesus had to deal with during his walk around Galalee?

1 Like

We need to take note that tithing was never mentioned or alluded to after Jesus’ resurrection. Giving? Yes, that was noted plenty. Let’s kill the idea of tithing and its stigma and just encourage GIVING from the heart. As long as you know where your money is going. Many like their local church, but can often only afford to tithe if giving at all. Which is why church budgets suffer. Go ahead and look up the net worth of conference/division/general leadership and to see where most of your tithe is going.

In the Adventist church, we are actually encouraged to give double tithe or 20%. Basically 10% to the Org. and 10% to all the other line items as directed. The problem is, after “Caesar” gets his cut you can be down 50% on your paycheck real fast. Leaving some under more dire circumstances than others. Go ahead and take a peek at your tithe envelope. Not only will you see Malachi staring at you most likely, but directions on where and how much is expected of you. On top of that, EGW and therefore the church manual tell you that tithe shouldn’t go to the poor, your local church, or anywhere the payer wishes to support. Needs to go to God (AKA the church Org. being Gods storehouse.) If you don’t you are counted as an embezzler in the books of heaven and will probably lose your salvation. But, if you do, God will bless you! By the way, totally incorrect and unbiblical. The whole system we have for tithing is unbiblical outside of our trusty proof texts.

When I came to my current church, they didn’t even have a budget, the local SDA school was $100,000 in debt. The school treasurer disappeared, likely was actually embezzling. It’s better now, but this is not the only example of this at the local church levels. If it’s happening there, how many other places in the upper levels of the organization is it happening? If you hear of a secular organization that’s supposed to be helping people is actually misusing funds, are you going to keep sending money there? Probably not, right? Why do we keep giving at the church level? Because people are taught that they will either be blessed with more, or it’s a salvation issue. Neither of which are accurate. Plenty fear based though!

I can hear someone saying, “what about paying taxes? The government is corrupt and misappropriating funds!” Well, whose face and buildings are on the money? I have a legal obligation to return some to them. Other than a fundamental belief which shouldn’t be, and words from a since passed away church founder, I have no legal or biblical precedence to pay tithes to the SDA Org.

Will I support my local church and its mission? Yes. Will I allot some of my giving to other Christian missions around me that I think are doing God’s work? Yes. Will I pay a poor family’s rent, or put gas in their tank with what would have been my tithe if God impresses me to do so? You know it! If I don’t have money to give, will I volunteer my time instead? Absolutely! If that makes me a Badventist, so be it!


Deut. 12, 14, and 26 provide instructions on tithing:
1 - One part is to be used by the tithe giver to eat, enjoy and praise the Lord in the temple/church
2 - One part is for the workers in the field for God, or the Levites, for they had no land allotted to them
3 - One part is to be used for assistance to the poor, the foreigners/immigrants in need, the widows in need, and the homeless.

Each 3 year, the whole tithe was to be used for the workers and those in need ( the poor, foreigners/immigrants in need and widows in need).

I have never heard Deut. 12, 14, or 26 being read in church. There is usually a 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes sermonette on Mal.3. And Abraham never paid tithe all his life as stated in one of the quarterlies a few years ago.

I have even heard a Pastor answering a question by saying that if a church member has the tithe and the person does not have enough money to feed their children; they should not take from the tithe; they should pay the whole tithe and the Lord will bless them with other options to feed their children.

Uncle Doug Batchelor said that in a TV sermon.

1 Like

Why do these people think god created MasterCard and Visa and put a pay-day loan place on every street corner?



This topic was automatically closed after 14 days. New replies are no longer allowed.