Wednesday, May 15, 2019


If you have been to church for any period of time, you have probably heard it.  The infamous "Storehouse Message"  You may be feeling a little squirmy just reading this, or maybe you are rolling your eyes, thinking "here we go again".  

        Relax, I am not going to give you seven Biblical principles on why you should give to me or my ministry.  I am going to give you only five... just kidding, this is totally not about that.  

         In fact, one of the biggest tragedies in the church today is the handling of money and methods employed to get more.  I wonder how many pastors Jesus would drive out of their pulpits with a whip after hearing the latest gimmicky sermon designed to raise more money.  

          Maybe, like me, you have heard gems like these, "cash in your nest egg for our latest building project." Or my personal favorite, "dig deep and show Jesus how much you love him."  

  I remember when I was visiting a local church for a few weeks, I felt led to put my tithe in the offering plate.  The next week, a gentleman on the finance committee came up, put his arm around me squeezed real tight and said,  "boy, I'm glad you're here!"   I wonder if his exuberance was because I was a brother in Christ come to worship with him or maybe had something to do with the size of the check I dropped in the plate the previous week.  He wasn't so glad I was the week before...

           As the western church continues to thrive as a business, business interests will continue to muddy up the waters of ministry.  After all, competitive salaries, high mortgages and exorbitant utility bills have to be paid somehow.  The kingdom of God is free, but it ain't cheap!

Storehouse giving

     One of the most blatant and shameful mishandling of scripture is the "Storehouse message", designed to shame and manipulate church goers into giving. The Storehouse Message comes out of Malachi 3:8-10  Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.  Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 

       I certainly believe in the principle of tithing and yes, we are commanded to give to the Lord, but the Storehouse Message has nothing to do with funding a church to pay salaries, mortgages and light bills.

    Unless your local church actually has a literal storehouse where the needy can come and be supplied, this message should never be applied to the offering plate. 

  Keeping the big givers happy

      What happens if your biggest contributors are your biggest sinners? What happens when your biggest contributors begin to assert their agendas with the unspoken threat of withholding their generosity?  

      The Apostle Peter dealt with just such a situation in Acts 8 when a new convert offered money to receive authority in the church.  I love his response: Act 8:20-21  But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 

  Peter was not interested in the man's money, but his soul.  What if Peter was facing a huge mortgage payment on his extravagant church building, high utility bills, and needed to make sure he and all his assistant pastors got paid?  What if Peter viewed his ministry from a business perspective?  

    Peter focused on the work set before him and trusted God for provision.  Peter had no need to coddle a wealthy contributor or sugarcoat the truth for fear of losing a big donor.  

Teaching to the tithe

       Another big trap a ministry can fall into is teaching to the tithe.  Teaching to the tithe is making sure the message offends no one because let's face it, happy customers are paying customers.  If McDonald's decided to change it's menu to only healthy food, how long would it take before McDonald's went out of business?

        Recently, I heard a nationally syndicated radio talk show host say church should not challenge people or make them introspective, rather church should make people feel good about themselves. 

       Hmmm, I guess that makes Jesus the biggest failure when it comes to building a congregation.  In one day, Jesus attracted over 5000 people to His ministry and because He taught them things they did not want to hear, His congregation collapsed and He was left with only twelve.  Jesus was not very business savvy and not many church boards would tolerate such behavior from a pastor hired to "pack 'em in".  

         As soon as a ministry considers how a particular message or truth may negatively affect attendance and giving, the ministry has lost sight of it's true purpose. 

  Giving is commanded in scripture

      Don't get me wrong, I believe in giving and I also believe in supporting local ministries through tithes and offerings. This is scriptural.  What I do not believe in is a ministry strong arming people into giving where God has not directed.  

       God commands us to give, however, nowhere in scripture does it say, "Thou shalt give to the local church."  God may tell you, individually, to support a local congregation, or, God may direct to buy groceries for a needy family facing sudden unemployment.  

        The point is, if your giving is not God directed, it may be misdirected.  If you are giving out of guilt or intimidation, your giving is in vain, spiritually speaking.

Tithing is a Biblical principle

        For the Church, tithing is not commanded.  The clearest teaching on giving in the church age is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 

        Tithing, however, is a Biblical principle established before the giving of the Law.  Hundreds of years before the Law was given, we see Abraham tithing the spoils of war to Melchizedek. 

         Tithing is basically a covenant between you and God where you set aside 10% of your income for His work.  I believe in and practice tithing.  I do not, however, believe we are called to blindly support a local ministry or church just because we are told to by someone who depends on your giving for a salary.

         Instead, allow God to direct your giving.  You may be called to support a variety of ministries, missionaries or individuals.  You may be called to give to the local congregation you attend.  Just be open to God's lead and give where God directs, regardless of how convincing this quarter's storehouse message may seem.  

        God calls us to give and to do so with a cheerful heart.  Don't be afraid to ask where the money you give goes.  Be open to the move of the Holy Spirit when it comes to your finances and know you can trust God.  

Now, go live as Christ... and Give the devil hell!


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