Ask the Coach
Q: My church experienced a catastrophic event that damaged our church building. We asked our conference for help since they own the building, but they said no. Can we keep tithe in order to repair the building?
A: First, let me say that I’m very sorry for the damage and loss that you and your fellow church members have experienced. A catastrophic event not only affects church property but lives as well.
Let me begin by sharing a little of how property insurance works. Property insurance should cover the damage, depending on the nature of the damage. Standard practice states that the church would pay the deductible for the policy. If your church is not insured, the question needs to be asked, “Why not?” The Conference Association is responsible for making sure that all church owned property is covered. If the Conference dropped the ball, my understanding is that they have some degree of responsibility and could seek to negotiate a mutually agreed settlement with the church, as a gesture of goodwill in the spirit of shared responsibility. But if the church knew they had no property insurance, should they blame the Conference and hold back tithe for something they failed to manage? The pastor and head elder are responsible for leading the church in this matter.
In regard to the use of tithe, the church needs to understand that tithe is not used for buildings or for the repair of them. It is used primarily for pastors’ salaries—including their own. It wouldn’t be too cool if the church chose to withhold tithe and then the conference chose to withhold their pastor’s salary. Of course, that wouldn’t happen. But do you see the ramifications of this scenario?
The bigger picture is that of relationship. What relationship does your church have with the conference? It appears that it’s not only your church that is damaged, but your relationship with the conference as well. I would encourage your church leadership to strengthen that relationship so that they can work together to find a solution to this dilemma instead of the church seeking to “punish” the conference for their decision.