Some people just want to learn skills and techniques on how to increase their business profit. Others want to know how to maximize their investment returns. In an effort to learn those things, people go chasing after various techniques and strategies.
Today, I want to introduce some common strategies for Christian giving or Christian tithing. Some of these are teachings, and others are strategies and techniques on giving.
How Should Christians Give? Four Common Answers
The Christian Tithe: Give 10%
Since writing to a larger Christian audience, I’ve been surprised at how controversial the Christian tithe is. I come from a background where ‘Christian giving’ and ‘Christian tithing’ was used interchangeably (though honestly I never heard the word ‘tithe’ very much). However, I’ve come to learn that many people use tithing in a completely different way.
Notes on the Christian tithe
- Tithes are not payments – I hear people saying they “pay their tithes” instead we should “give our gifts/tithes”.
- Tithes are not taxes – There is a sense that you give a tithe out of requirement just like you pay taxes.
- Tithing should combine a right action and a right attitude.
I think God is honored when people choose to give 10% of their income. In fact, I do think it is a good place to start your giving. I’ve shared my thoughts on giving while in debt in case you’re interested in that topic.
Proportionate Christian Giving: Give 10% Plus More Based On Income
Dorothy Day once suggested that, for all Christians, the tithe should be a starting point, but every Christian should strive for something she called proportionate giving.
I’ve written about proportionate giving, so I’ll just touch on it briefly here.
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. (2 Corinthians 8:11 NIV)
Proportionate giving means that we give according to how we have been blessed. As such, if God has showered you with tremendous financial blessings, he has enabled you to be more active in the grace of giving.
The Graduated Tithe: Give an extra 5% for every $1000 you receive above a base salary
The graduated tithe is a giving strategy for Christians who identify with the importance of proportionate giving, but who are still looking for some added direction.
I’m a fan of the graduated tithe and, as a matter of fact, my wife and I agreed in 2008 to share in the grace of giving through a graduated tithe structure.
Essentially, with the graduate tithe you choose a base salary and then make a covenant to give a large percentage out of every raise, bonus, or extra income you receive. Typically, the graduated tithe is broken into blocks of $1,000 and you give an additional 5% of each $1,000 you earn. Basically, once you start making $18,000 more than your current salary, you will give away 100% of everything extra you earn above that mark.
You can read more about the graduated tithe.
Give What You Want: Give From Your Heart Without Any Numerical or Percentage Guidance
There are some who feel like these other forms of giving are too legalistic or that they are not biblically based. As a result, these encourage people to give what they want when they want. They never suggest a percentage, but do speak highly of the joy of giving. They think this best fulfills the biblical description of Christian giving.
Those who promote cheerful giving want to remove the burden and guilt of giving in order to make it a purely voluntary act. This way, they think all people will be blessed by participating in giving.
Fighting, Christian Giving, and Christian Tithing
I’m deeply saddened by the dark, bitter, and hateful way I’ve seen people argue about different giving strategies (not this post, but others I’ve read). There are some tithe crusaders and some anti-tithe crusaders, and together each has managed to stir up enough bad blood that this topic is extremely sensitive.
I’m going to be very selective about comments. If your comment is bitter or hateful, it will be deleted – regardless of your position. If it is edifying, loving, and informative, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Which giving strategy do you use? Why do you find that beneficial? Is there a loving way we can accept others who accept a different giving strategy?