Counting the tithe

An important question to consider as many churches begin to enter stewardship season: Does the tithe count if some of the 10% does not go to the church? The Rev. Canon Frank Logue of the Diocese of Georgia reflects on this important question in his “Loose Canon” blog. What say you, good Episcopal Cafe readers? How do you “count the tithe” at your church?


Viewing Stewardship Broadly

From Frank Logue in the Loose Canon blog

Does the tithe have to go to your church to count? That question comes from a reader who appropriately called into question something I wrote in a recent column, The Trouble with Tithing. The questioned stemmed from my stating that our average pledge in the Diocese of Georgia is $3,200 per year. While that’s true, and while it is also true that this is one sign that a majority of parishioners do not tithe, these statements alone do not show if someone tithes. For it is possible to give both to one’s church and to give beyond the church as well to make up the tithe. The reader who emailed noted that she and her husband have long given 5% of their gross income to the church and another 5% to other good and Godly charities doing Christ’s work in the world. This balance mattered to her as churches are important, but they do not all provide a lot of concrete work to alleviate the problems folks face.

So, while it is not popular for a pastor to say it, I have for years taught that while my wife and I give all of our tithe to the church, that is not required . . .

Category : The Lead

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4 Comments
  1. Ann Fontaine

    I agree with Frank – I know the argument is that you will benefit spiritual from having no control over the money – as in giving to the church (some even say giving to God). I believe if people give – that’s all good. In kind work is good too. Many in our congregation can’t tithe – it would be all their food money — but they give generously helping with the yard and other ministries which we would have to “purchase” otherwise. Kids help too.

  2. John D. Andrews

    I was taught that the tithe (or what you can give) should go to where you are fed, which is seen by many as your church home. I have read several times in recent years that the reason some people don’t tithe is because they see their money going only to support a building and priest while doing very little, if anything, to help those in need. The point being that for churches to survive they need to be active in the community or they will not receive funds and they will close.

  3. tobias haller

    There is a long history behind the Christian understanding of the tithe — which was in the old days a proportional levy for the support of the church — and alms — which has always been a purely voluntary offering for the outreach ministry of the congregation. They have become confused over the years into one “collection” — all of it basically voluntary — but originally were quite distinct from each other.

    If every Episcopalian gave even half of a tithe of income, the church could work wonders. As it is the average is about 2 percent — one fifth of a tithe.

  4. Caoilin

    The Catholic diocese that I live in recommends that parishioners give 5% to the parish and the other 5% to agencies/groups outside the parish. (I am sure the preference is agencies such as Catholic Charities.)

    Caolin – please sign your name next time you comment – thanks ~ed.

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