To sum up part 1 of this post from last week (See “Should Christians Attend Church? Part I”), I do not believe attending a large building once a week is mandatory for followers of Christ. We as a body are the church, not any building, and I find that small groups and house churches more closely resemble the New Testament church than do the monolithic structures we commonly refer to as the Western “church”. From a financial standpoint then, if the church then is not a particular congregation but rather the body at large, what becomes of the tithe?
Most modern churches teach that the tithe (10% as it is generally understood) goes to the local church. I find no scriptural basis for this teaching. Rather, what I see from the early church is that all believers shared everything they had so that no one was in need (Acts 2:44-47). I’m going to guess this went far beyond 10% of their income. Here’s what I know: Jesus said to feed the hungry and to care for the poor, the sick, the orphans and the widows (Matthew 25:31-45; James 1:27). The New Testament church modeled a lifestyle of everyone giving to those that had less than they did. So my statement to you is, as long as there are hungry people, sick people, orphans and widows in this world, we have not yet given enough.
A community of believers who gather in a building is not exempt from this call. The Bible does not include instructions for using money to build new Sunday school rooms or a bigger sanctuary or even a beautiful café. Inasmuch as the modern church is diverting its funds to buy and build things that do not accomplish the commands of Christ (Matthew 25:31-46), they are not acting in accordance with Scripture. We are all called to be good stewards of what is entrusted to us. If your local church is not spending the money you donate on feeding the poor, caring for the sick, the orphans and the widows, then they should not be receiving your money. You are responsible for what has been entrusted to you, and you are responsible to make certain when you give, it is being spent directly for the Kingdom of God.
By and large, the modern Western Church has become known for building buildings and developing social programs for its “members”. While we are in the midst of cosmic warfare, we are spending our time arguing about what color the seat cushions should be or at what temperature the air conditioning should be set. I’ve got a challenge for you: get a copy of your church budget and see what percentage of spending you can link directly to the work of Christ. I’ve done this and it isn’t pretty. Proverbs 30:8 says to “give me just enough for today”, which we’ve somehow translated into large salaries for our Senior Pastors and staff.
There are churches in America that are the exception to the rule; not every church has fallen into the trap of materialism. However, we must be wise where we are giving our money. All that we have has been given to us by God; we therefore have a responsibility to use all of it – not just some meager percentage – to bless the world and to reflect His glory. If your fellowship is using the offerings you give in that manner, great! If not, you need to be giving your resources to ministries that have proven to be effective stewards in carrying out the work of Jesus in this world.
Should Christians go to church? I think it’s the wrong question. Should followers of Christ be coming together both to worship Him and encourage one another? Absolutely. Should those of us who declare Jesus is Lord of their life be giving abundantly and sacrificially to carry out the mission of Christ in our world? Unequivocally, yes! The Western church is broken; it has become consumed by materialism and caught up in the trappings of society. God’s church, however, The Church, is alive and well and will not be stopped. Regardless of where you choose to worship, remember that our instructions are clear and anything short of that is unacceptable for a true follower of Jesus. Let like-minded believers come together and take His message and His mercy throughout all the world. We are the Church and this is our destiny.
Question: What’s your take on giving to the local church?