Tithes and Offerings: The Vehicles that Move the Gospel

We are drawn by Jesus’ love to serve in His army. As this love relationship begins, our first active-duty assignment is to, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Not just to our neighborhood—He specifically says to go to all nations and baptize them. This directive reaches a global scope, hence, the reason for our worldwide church.  The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to “Go!” Reach all corners of the world with the message of Jesus’ love and soon return.

Here’s another familiar verse, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Do you love God? Being actively involved in a love relationship with the Savior who has done so much for us compels one to ask for a way to respond, to participate in sharing the love. Graciously, He provides a plan that we can fulfill in a loving relationship, not as a series of commands to follow but as a way to partner in spreading the gospel. Connecting the two verses, Matthew 28:19 and John 14:15, we see the motivation for our mission: “If you love me…you will go.”  The directive to go to all the world obligates everyone who claims to love God. We must reach the entire world. But how?  First our neighborhoods, next to the local churches, and from there it extends to the world.

We are not all preaching evangelists, but we are all called to reach out with the gifts God has given us to love and serve humanity through the gospel of Jesus Christ. One gift is the power to give which funds the mission. This power comes from God’s Spirit and a desire to follow His love directive (“Bring”) relating to money. Just as our spiritual gifts aid the church likewise do the financial gifts. The power to return our tithes and give offerings is the power to send the gospel into all the world. Normally, during the offering call, there’s worship music to augment the atmosphere of giving and remind us that giving is worship—not just a space holder in worship, nor a part of the liturgy—returning tithes and giving offerings is an act of worship. The spiritual component exhibited from the act of returning tithe and giving an offering to the storehouse is an expression of our love for, and trust in, God.

Malachi 3:10, says “Bring ye” or “you bring.” For those in a relationship with God, this statement means, “If you love me, bring the tithe into the storehouse.” Let’s navigate the storehouse function in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Tithes and offerings are received at the local church (storehouse A). Tithe begins its journey through the various entities of the church (conference, union, division, general conference). There is an immediate benefit to the local church from the tithe in the form of a full time or part-time pastor, teacher/principal, disaster response, and access to conference, union, division, and general conference leadership and services. The journey continues and tithe is sent to the conference (storehouse B) where 75-85% remains to fund ministry in the territory and the rest is sent to fulfill the mission of the gospel everywhere reaching the world.

The majority of offerings remain at the church for various ministries and church operations. We must remember that our offerings support the ministry of the gospel in our communities. The various entities have specialized functions that benefit and support the members.

At the conference, tithe is distributed according to policies voted by the world church. Some believe our tithe system should model the congregational church and everything stay in the local church. However, it’s extremely important to remember our mission is global. When the local church sends its tithe to the conference, it fulfills Matthew 28:19.  Every member of the Seventh-day Adventist church who returns tithes into the storehouse recognizes their responsibility for reaching humanity with the gospel. We begin where we are and then expand globally.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

Returning tithe is not a suggestion. It’s a lifetime directive. And when we return a faithful tithe into the storehouse, God will open the floodgates of heaven! Test God! Return a full tithe and offering for the next 3-6 months and I guarantee He will bless and protect you.

Many think that when they return tithe, they’ve given another form of offering.  The original Hebrew word means “tenth.” And that is the entire 10% of your increase as tithe. Some people give 5% as tithe and 5% as an offering, but the whole tenth is the tithe. A freewill offering is when true giving starts. With this in mind, how can a Christian rob God?  Will a man or woman, boy or girl, rob God? “Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed God?’ In tithes and offerings…” (Malachi 3:8) If we do not return tithes and offerings, we rob God.

This is critical: it’s not just about the tithe.  Focusing just on the tithe hinders the work of the local church. The Bible says, “tithes and offerings.” We can’t separate them. They are twins. What parent says to the doctor, “I only want the girl child and disregard the male?” They are twins! It will not happen. Tithes and offerings can’t be separated.

Tithes are the vehicle to move the gospel and share the unique SDA message around the world. Offerings stay at the local church and allow it to live out the message and do ministry at home in its community.  The tithe envelope (printed or in designates a section for the Local Church.  This is the place to give a portion of our income to bless the work of the local church to do ministry in our city or town.  The twins are not identical; the distinction is tithes go around the world and offerings stay.  What percentage of our income should we return in offerings?  The Bible does not give an offering percentage or amount.  God allows us to choose to give 1%, 5%, 10%, or whatever percentage of our increase to our local church as offering. The principle of giving an offering is based on how we have been blessed.

We fund the mission of spreading the everlasting gospel into all the world because of our relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We support the Church financially, not because we were told to, tradition, or fear, it is simply that we love the Lord, and this is how we share the same message that drew us to Him. We spread the message around the globe by supporting the work worldwide. Our part is funding the mission; God’s part is blessing us and the church.

Don’t allow the full blessing of the Offertory worship experience to escape you by disregarding the opportunity God provides every Sabbath for us to express our gratitude and love to Him through returning a faithful tithe and giving an offering according to the blessings He showers on us daily.

Published 31 March 2022 by Michael Harpe