Last week I started a six part series on why preaching on tithing does not work. Now I realize that some of you do not preach on tithing because you don’t think tithing is a mandate for New Testament believers. If that’s where you’re coming from then just substitute the word ‘tithing’ for ‘giving’ or ‘stewardship’ and this series will still relate.
In part one I said that one reason why preaching on tithing does not work is that we seldom preach on tithing. There are some reasons why we don’t, but the main point to part one was that if you think that an occasional sermon on tithing is going to create tithers, you are probably fooling yourself.
In part two I suggested that the number one reason we don’t preach on tithing is fear. We’re afraid of turning people off or people turning on us. Have you ever had someone get pushed out of shape because you preached on tithing? Have you ever had someone get pushed out of shaped because you didn’t preach on tithing? Sometimes you just can’t win. Anyway…we fear losing people and this fear can cause us to hold back on teaching things our church members need to hear.
The third reason why preaching on tithing doesn’t work it because we wait until the church is in trouble financially or until we’re mad. Often these go hand in hand.
Not too long ago I was talking to a pastor who was concerned about a downward trend in giving in his church. The pastor was facing the very real possibility of taking a cut in pay. His family was already barely getting by. I could tell he was frustrated, (who wouldn’t be?), and I could tell he was mad. He wanted to discuss the need to preach on tithing. But before we went any further…
Me: You sound pretty mad.
Bill (not his real name): I don’t mean to sound that way. I’m not really mad, it’s just frustrating to hear how people spend their money with no regard to the church or tithing.
Me: I get that…but you sound pretty angry.
Bill (short pause): Well, I guess you’re right. I am mad.
Me: I understand. But we might want to deal with that before you preach a sermon on tithing or address this problem to the church.
If the only time people hear about tithing is when the church is sinking financially then it won’t have as much effect as if we preach on tithing even during the good times. As I’ve already said, it’s going to be uncomfortable talking about tithing if the only time we talk about it is 1) very seldom, and 2) when we’re in trouble. Also, if we are angry, that vibe will slip out (no matter how good we think we are at hiding our true feelings), and anger, irritation, guilt or shame are a poor motivators.
Always deal with your frustration or anger before you preach, and especially if you’re planning to preach on tithing.